Microscopic cells are a vital component of all living organisms and each living body, whether plant or animal, is made up of several such cells which contribute towards carrying out basic life functions. In order to sustain life these cells need to reproduce from time to time, so as to keep their numbers constant. Over time, cells suffer from wear and tear and old age, and eventually stop functioning, so it is extremely essential for these cells to be present in large numbers and in a healthy state in order to sustain life.
Cell division is something that has fascinated scientists for many years now, and the ability of these cells to create perfectly identical copies of themselves is truly something to be marveled at. Irrespective of all the wonders of technology around us, the fact remains that something as simple as cell division is a truly magical process that has taken many years to decipher. This cell division is what is known as Mitosis, and this is what keeps living organisms alive. Needless to say, the process of mitosis in plants and animals is very different, and this is why one needs to understand the complete difference between plant mitosis and animal mitosis.
What is Mitosis
The cells inside plants and animals are known as Eukaryotes, and these are cells that are embedded and housed inside membranes. The most important membrane of this cell is the nucleus, and this is what distinguishes eukaryotes from prokaryotes, and the nucleus is also the component that enables cell division and mitosis. Mitosis is nothing but the division of one single cell into two genetically identical cells, and this is carried out for the sole purpose of continuing life. Mitosis is immediately followed by a process known as Cytokinesis, and both these processes together define the Mitotic Phase of the cell cycle in a living body.
he various stages of mitosis are as follows.
- Interphase: Though this phase is not really a part of mitosis, it generally precedes the whole process of cell reproduction. It does so by preparing the cell for division and also provides it with all the necessary nutrients and proteins.
- Preprophase: This phase occurs only in plant cells, and it involves the creation of a bisecting line along the center of the cell, and this line shows where the cell will divide. This bisecting line is known as Phragmosome and it is made of cytoplasm.
- Prophase: In this phase the chromatin (which is the combination of the proteins and DNA of the nucleus) gets divided into two chromosomes which are still attached to each other, and each of these chromosomes start moving to opposite sides of the cell.
- Prometaphase: This phase precedes metaphase, and in this case the nucleus fragments start breaking and moving towards the chromosomes. The microtubules of the cell also slowly start attaching themselves to the chromosomes and this is a sign that the cell division has truly begun.
- Metaphase: The microtubules now get attached to the kinetochores on the chromosomes, and they start moving to opposite sides with renewed speed. The alignment between the chromosomes is equal, and the DNA distribution is identical as well.
- Anaphase: In this phase the chromosomes get cleaved right through the center and they move completely to different sides of the cell. Many stages of elongation and bisection are carried out here for the chromosomes to be divided.
- Telophase: The last step of mitosis involves the actual splitting up of the chromosomes into two distinct parts, and the cleaning up and the strengthening of the membrane also occurs here. Upon the completion of this stage, the process of mitosis is completed, and the process of cytokinesis then begins.
Comparing Plant and Animal Mitosis
Knowing the basics about these various stages of mitosis is something that is essential for understanding the differences between mitosis in plants vs animals. Though the basic premise and the process is the same, there are some fundamental differences between the two. The most important difference between the two is that animal cells do not exist in a rigid shape. This happens because animals are mobile and the external environment that they live in changes from time to time. On the other hand, plant cells always exist in one fixed shape and moreover, they are designed to carry out photosynthesis, which is essential for their survival. As a result, their shapes and functions are quite different, and this ultimately affects them during the process of mitosis as well. Additionally, animal cells also have smaller vacuoles than plant cells. Vacuoles are small pockets in the cells that contain water that are essential for the preservation of the cells.
After mitosis has been completed and cytokinesis starts, plant cells see the formation of a cell plate. This occurs when the cells start separating from each other, but this is not seen in animal cells. In place of this, a cleavage furrow occurs in animal cells and this is what ultimately separates both the daughter cells from each other after mitosis. The purpose of a cell plate and a cleavage furrow is to separate the resulting nuclei from each other. Centrioles are another distinction between the two cells during mitosis, as they are present in animal cells but absent in plant cells, especially during the metaphase of mitosis. Centrioles are structures that the spindle fibers get attached with, in order to pull the cell apart during the division, and the purpose they fulfill is absolutely vital.
These were the fundamental differences between animal mitosis vs plant mitosis, and these eventually lead to variations in the mitosis process for both these kinds of cells. The appearance of the process, the amount of time it takes and other subtleties of the process also vary from each other as a result of these differences.