Eukaryotic cells are larger, more complex and more evolutionarily recent than prokaryotes. Whereas prokaryotes are bacteria and Archaea, eukaryotes are literally everything else ... amoebae, earthworms, mushrooms, grass,
Eukaryotes also have specialized energy producing organelles called mitochondria and plants also have chloroplasts. Both mitochondria and chloroplasts are believed to have evolved from prokaryotes that began living symbiotically within eukaryotic cells long ago.
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Endomembrane system of eukaryotic cell, showing nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus & plasma membrane. Click herefor a labeled diagram.
The most noticeable feature that differentiates these more complex cells from prokaryotes is the presence of a nucleus; a double membrane-bound control center separating the genetic material, DNA (deoxyribo-nucleic acid), from the rest of the cell.
Eukaryotic cells also have an endomembrane system composed of different membrane-bound organelles that transport materials around the cell. The endomembrane system includes the nuclear membrane, rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus and different types of transport vesicles.
These vital organelles are involved in metabolism and energy conversion within the cell.
Depending on the organism, eukaryotic cells can reproduce in one of several ways, including meiosis (sexual reproduction) and mitosis (cell division producing identical daughter cells).
Illustration of a generic eukaryotic animal cell. Click herefor a practice assignment on identifying the parts of an animal cell.
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