Although there are differences among eukaryotes (creature that range from amoebae to elephant) overall, eukaryotic cells share many characteristics.
Here's a breakdown:
Eukaryotic Cell Envelope & External Structures
Cell Wall: The cells of plants, algae and fungi have thick, protective cell walls, which provide support, help maintain the shape of the cell, and prevent the cell from taking in too much fresh water and bursting.
Article Summary: Animals, plants, fungi, protists, algae, and water & slime molds are eukaryotes, organisms composed of one or more nucleated cells. Here are the basics.
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Cilia & Flagella: These extensions of the cell are covered with plasma membrane and supported internally with a structural system of microtubules—kind of like a bone covered in skin. Flagella, which are longer, and cilia, which are shorter, aid in cell movement. Cilia, which are able to beat together in a coordinated manner, can also help direct materials around the outside of the cell.
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Plasma Membrane: All cells, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic, have a plasma membrane, made mainly of phospholipids and proteins, which functions as a barrier, regulating the movement of materials between the inside and the outside of the cell.
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Illustration of a generic eukaryotic animal cell. Click herefor a practice assignment on identifying the parts of an animal cell.
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Eukaryotic Membrane-bound Organelles
The main distinction between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is the presence of membrane-bound organelles, a feature that only eukaryotes have. Organelles separate function within the eukaryotic cell, like a bunch of tiny, specialized factories that work together to help the cell run.
Endomembrane System: Organelles that are membranous have an additional handy feature, a built-in internal transportation system. Because membranous organelles are enclosed by the same type of material as the plasma membrane is made of (phospholipids and proteins), cellular supplies can easily be shipped when a piece of one membrane-bound organelle breaks off, forming a vesicle that travels within the cell, and then fuses with a different membrane-bound organelle. Material can also enter (endocytosis) or exit (exocytosis) the cell via this method.