AAT Bioquest

How does cytokinesis differ in plant and animal cells?

Posted June 17, 2022


Cytokinesis is the process by which the cytoplasm divides into two identical daughter cells. The main difference between cytokinesis in plant and animal cells is the manner in which the cytoplasm gets divided. 

Plant cells have a cell wall covering the cell membrane. During plant cytokinesis, a cell plate is formed through the center of the parent cell. This cell divides the nucleus and the cytoplasm equally into two separate daughter cells. A new cell wall is formed surrounding each of the identical daughter cells. 

Animal cells don’t have a cell wall. The cell membrane forms the outermost layer of these cells. During animal cytokinesis, the cell membrane gets divided into two by the formation of a cleavage furrow that keeps deepening through a contractile ring in the center of the parent cell. This cleavage furrow eventually divides the nucleus and cytoplasm into two identical daughter cells. 

Another difference between cytokinesis in plants and animals is the direction in which it progresses. Plant cytokinesis is centrifugal in nature, the cytoplasmic division starts at the center of the cell and moves towards the cell wall. Animal cytokinesis is centripetal in nature, the cytoplasmic division starts at the edges of the cell at the plasma membrane and moves towards the center. 

Additional resources

ReadiPrep™ Nuclear/Cytoplasmic Fractionation Kit

Cytokinesis in plant and animal cells: endosomes 'shut the door'