Did you know what a living organism consists of? Yes, the cells—they are the building blocks of all living things on Earth! Fascinatingly, all kinds of organisms will always fall into one of these two major categories: prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

Although they have quite major differences, both of them still possess several similarities as well. However, before we dive straight into both of their similarities, let's get to know each of them in detail!

What are prokaryotes?

Prokaryotes are organisms composed of cells that don't have a cell nucleus or any membrane-encased organelles. In terms of their sizes, they're rather small and simple around 0.1 to 5 micrometers (μm) in diameter.

Not only that their DNA is not surrounded within a nucleus; they're also less structured compared to eukaryotes. Their DNA is packed up in a region called the nucleoid.

Moreover, most prokaryotes are usually made up of a single cell, or in other words, unicellular. However, some of them are also made of several cells, which are known as multicellular.

According to scientists, prokaryotes can be broken down into two major groups: bacteria and archaea. Some bacteria can either cause disease or help human digestion; meanwhile, archaea is the unique one as it can live indefinitely in extreme environments.

What are eukaryotes?

Different from prokaryotes, eukaryotes are organisms made up of cells that contain a membrane-bound nucleus as well as other organelles.

Having a meaning to possess a "true nucleus", eukaryotes are larger and more complex compared with prokaryotes. In general, eukaryotes usually have diameters ranging from 10 to 100 μm.

In addition, eukaryotes can be considered as single-cell microorganisms or parts of multicellular organisms. Some living organisms that fall into this organism including animals, plants, fungi, and protists.

What are their similarities?

1. They follow the "cell theory"

Video: TED-Ed (YouTube)

In biology, cell theory is a scientific theory made in the mid-nineteenth century. Basically, the theory can be summed up as "living organisms are made up of cells". Already accepted universally, cell theory has three main principles:

  • All living organisms are made of one or more cells.
  • The cell is the basic unit of structure and function in organisms.
  • Cells are the result of pre-existing cells.

Based on the three principles above, both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are proven to own the same characteristics and follow those principles.

2. They have similar chemical compositions

Despite having different structures, prokaryotes and eukaryotes have similar chemical compositions—in terms of their cellular structures and organelles!

To give you an idea, both of them contain carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and DNA as well as RNA.

3. They contain similar biochemical reactions

In order to survive, any types of cells have to produce and store their own energy. Be it prokaryotes or eukaryotes, both of them need to produce biomolecules and biochemical reactions, which will enable cell's lives.

Prokaryotes and eukaryotes make use of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as their "energy unit" to supply energy for cellular processes.

4. They obey the molecular biology's central dogma

Stated as "DNA makes RNA, and RNA makes protein", molecular biology's central dogma explains the flow of genetic information in a biological system.

The central dogma of molecular biology.
Photo: Wikipedia

That system, in fact, was conserved by both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. They use DNA polymerases to replicate DNA, RNA polymerases for mRNA transcription, and ribosomes for protein translation.

5. They have similar cell structures

Prokaryotes and eukaryotes contain the same cell structures, which are chromosomal DNA, plasma membrane, cytoplasm, and ribosomes.

The plasma membrane, also known as the cell membrane, is the phospholipid layer that protects the cell from the outside environment. The cytoplasm is cell contents inside the cell membrane—excluding the nucleus. Ribosomes are small organelles used to produce proteins—it's a place where a process called protein synthesis happens.

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