Prokaryotic Cells

The two essential types of cells that are found on Earth are the – Prokaryotic and the Eukaryotic Cell.

There are numerous differences between the two, but the critical one is the presence of the nucleus, which carries the genetic material and this (nucleus) is present in a well-defined form in eukaryotic cells, but is absent in prokaryotic cells. So, in prokaryotic cells, a free-floating material is present in the cytoplasm of a cell which is nucleoid, in place of the nucleus.

Definition of Prokaryotic cell

The most primitive, simplest, and the earliest form of the life present on the Earth are the Prokaryotes. These are single-celled organisms that have cytoplasm, cell membrane, cell wall, and ribosomes, but lacks the well-defined nucleus; however, they have nucleoid. The name ‘Prokaryotes’ is a ‘Greek‘ word, where ‘pro‘ means ‘before or primitive’ and ‘karyon‘ means ‘nucleus’.


The living beings are classified under three domains: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. The prokaryotes, that are single-celled organisms fall under the domain Bacteria and Archaea. The domain Eukarya are the complex one and composed of the eukaryotic organisms. They can be unicellular or multicellular.

Characteristics of the Prokaryotic Cells

  • The size of the prokaryotic cells lies between 0.1 – 5.0 μm in diameter, which is comparatively smaller than the eukaryotic cells.
  • The prokaryotic cells are basically found in different shapes like bacilli, vibrio, cocci, spherical, and spirilla. Apart, from these, there can be other modifications in these shapes.
  • Prokaryotic cells lack membrane-bound organelles like lysosomes, chloroplast, mitochondria, and Golgi body.
  • The cell also lacks a well-defined nucleus, rather nucleoid is present, which has a single chromosome and comprises of the circular, double-stranded DNA.
  • The histone protein is absent in prokaryotes, which is majorly found in the chromosomes of eukaryotes. The cell also lacks the mitotic apparatus and nucleolus.
  • The cell-wall that works as the protective layer and gives shape to the cell, is made up of peptidoglycans (amino acids and sugars), it allows the
  • The prokaryotic cells, reproduce asexually that can be by binary fission, budding, or through conjugation methods.
  • Most prokaryotes can survive under extreme conditions like swamps, wetlands hydrothermal vents, hot springs, and even inside the body of other living beings and so-known as ‘extremophiles‘.

What is common between Prokaryotes and the Eukaryotes

As we know that eukaryotes have evolved from the prokaryotes only and have a complexed structure, but still they share a few common features’ like;

  • Cytoplasm: The fluid present within the cell, made up of salt, water, and proteins.
  • Ribosomes: The protein-producing organelles.
  • Genetic material (DNA): The essential component of the cell, that defines the characteristic features of the living being.
  • Cell membrane: The cell membrane or the plasma membrane is the outer membrane of the cell, which acts as the barrier for the cell and separates it from the outer environment and checks the material going inside and outside the cell.

Structure of the Prokaryotic cell

Structures or OrganellesFunctions
Cell WallThe outer layer of the cell, that protects from the external environment and give the defined shape to the cell.
Capsule:It is not present is all the prokaryotes, but it act as the double or additional protective layer of the cell, that provides moisture and nutrients to the cell, when it is been engulfed by the other organisms.
Plasma or Cell MembraneThe layer that protects the cytoplasm, it checks the entry and exit of the material, and regulates the fluidity within the cell.
FlagellaIt helps in the cellular movements, these are whip-like long outgrowth.
PiliThese are the hair-like structures that help in attachment of the bacteria to the surface of the other bacteria. Short hair like structures are known as fimbriae.
PlasmidsThese are circular-DNA structure (extra chromosomal material), that do not participate in reproduction.
RibosomesRibosomes are the protein producing machines present in all the cellular structure.
NucleoidThe part in the cytoplasm of the cell, that has the DNA molecule.

Organelles like the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, lysosomes are absent in prokaryotes.

Examples of Prokaryotes

Escherichia Coli Bacterium (E. coli), Streptomyces Bacteria, Streptococcus Bacterium, Sulfolbus acidocaldarius archeobacterium (archaea).

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