Differences between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells

Prokaryotic cells are different from eukaryotic cells in many different ways. These bases of differences are clearly mentioned in the following table.

Basis of Difference

Prokaryotic Cells

Eukaryotic Cells


They are the primitive form of lives which evolved nearly 3.5 billion years ago.

They evolved much later than the prokaryotic cells; nearly 2 billion years ago.

Size of the cell

They are much smaller than the eukaryotic cells. The cell diameter ranges from 0.1 to 10µm.

The cell diameter ranges from 10-100µm.

Cellular organization

Most prokaryotic cells are unicellular.

Most eukaryotic cells are multicellular.


All prokaryotic cells lack true or membrane-bound nucleus.

All eukaryotic cells have defined nucleus along with nuclear membrane and nucleolus.

DNA wrapping

DNA is not enclosed within the nucleus but is supercoiled by the HU protein.

DNA is enclosed within the nucleus and is surrounded by the protein called histone.

No. of chromosomes

There is only one, yet pseudo chromosome is present. It is called plasmid.

Multiple numbers of chromosomes are present.


It is rarely present.

It is present in all eukaryotic cells.


Only small ribosomes (70s) are present in prokaryotic cells.

Small and large (70s & 80s) ribosomes are present in eukaryotic cells.

Cell organelles

Organelles such as lysosome, peroxisome, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria. Golgi bodies, etc. are absent in these cells.

Lysosome, peroxisome, endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria. Golgi bodies, etc. are present.


They lack chloroplast but chlorophyll can be found scattered in the cytoplasm.

Chloroplast is present in all eukaryotic plant cells and in some unicellular organisms.


It is composed of single fiber.

It is composed of multiple fibers.

Plasma membrane

Plasma membrane of prokaryotic cells lack carbohydrate and sterols.

Both carbohydrate and sterols are present in plasma membrane of eukaryotic cells.

Cell wall

Despite the alteration in composition, cell wall is present in all prokaryotic cells.

Cell wall is present in only eukaryotic plant cells.


It is present in all prokaryotic cells. It serves as a capsule or slime layer.

It is present in some of such cells which lack cell wall.

Cell division

Cell division occurs through binary fission.

Cell division occurs through mitosis.

Transfer of genetic material

Genetic material can be partially transferred through processes like transformation, transduction and conjugation.

Genetic material is transferred through meiosis.

Organisms (examples)

Archaea and Bacteria

Fungi, Protista, Plant and Animal