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Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic cells are the two types of cells that make up living things on Earth. When it comes to AP Biology, having an understanding of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells is important because these cells are the building blocks of almost everything that you'll learn in AP Bio. This article includes everything you need to know about the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells for AP Biology.
Unicellular vs. Multicellular
In the three domains of life (bacteria, archaea, and eukarya), prokaryotes are bacteria and archaea while eukaryotes are eukarya. 🐸
- Prokaryotes are unicellular (which means they are single celled organisms)
- Eukaryotes can be either unicellular or multicellular. 👩👨
While prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells do different types of organelles, they also have many similar ones as well. An easy way to remember organelles is to picture tiny organs; each of them are separate from each other and perform their own tasks. The similarities that are present in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are as follows:
- DNA (Found in the nucleus in eukaryotes but is free flowing the prokaryotes)
- Ribosomes that make proteins 💪
- Plasma Membrane that regulates what goes in and out of the cell 🚔🚨
What makes prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells different is their complexity. Eukaryotic cells are much more complex compared to prokaryotic cells. The differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells include:
- Eukaryotic cells tend to be larger
- Prokaryotic cells have NO nucleus so their DNA is free flowing
- Prokaryotic cells have NO membrane-bound organelles (remember that membrane-bound organelles have their own plasma membrane)
The AP exam will never need you to know more than three examples of why prokaryotes and eukaryotes differ, so you'll be fine if you just know the three bullets above.
Overall, it is important to realize that ALL living cells fall into one of these two categories. A deep understanding of the components of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells can help you better grasp more complex biology concepts and processes.