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Comparing Prokaryote and Eukaryote Cells

Understanding Differences in Cell Structure

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All living organisms can be sorted into one of two groups depending on the fundamental structure of their cells. These two groups are the prokaryotes and the eukaryotes.

Prokaryotes

Prokaryotes are organisms made up of cells that lack a cell nucleus or any membrane-encased organelles. This means the genetic material DNA in prokaryotes is not bound within a nucleus. Additionally, the DNA is less structured in prokaryotes than in eukaryotes. In prokaryotes, DNA is a single loop. In Eukaryotes, DNA is organized into chromosomes. Most prokaryotes are made up of just a single cell (unicellular) but there are a few that are made of collections of cells (multicellular). Scientists have divided the prokaryotes into two groups, the Bacteria and the Archaea.

Eukaryotes

Eukaryotes are organisms made up of cells that possess a membrane-bound nucleus (that holds genetic material) as well as membrane-bound organelles. Genetic material in eukaryotes is contained within a nucleus within the cell and DNA is organized into chromosomes. Eukaryotic organisms may be multicellular or single-celled organisms. All animals are eukaryotes. Other eukaryotes include plants, fungi, and protists.

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