12 Major Difference between Cell Membrane and Cell Wall with Table

What is the difference between cell membrane and cell wall?

A plant cell has both cell walls and cell membranes while the animal cell as the only cell membrane. These structures of the cell play different roles in an organism.

The core difference between the cell membrane and the cell wall is that the cell membrane is a thin layer that helps allow selective passage of molecules while cell wall is a thick layer that provides shape and rigidity of the cell.

difference between cell membrane and cell wall

What is a Cell Membrane?

The cell membrane is a thin layer that is only visible under an electron microscope. It enhances the selective permeability of molecules and also offers protection to the protoplasm.

Cell membrane tends to be quite present in all types of cells. It consists of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Have receptors to enhance communication between cells.

The cell membrane is metabolically active and they require proper nutrition to survive. The selective permeability allows only certain molecules to enter the cell.

The function of the Cell Membrane

  1. Allow passage of molecules into the cell
  2. Protect the protoplasm
  3. Separate components inside the cell from outside the environment

What Is Cell Wall?

The cell wall is a thick layer of the cell that provides rigidity and shape of the cell. The cell wall is visible under a light microscope.

The cell wall is quite common in plant cells, bacterial cells, and fungal cells. It is made of cellulose, chitin, and peptidoglycan

The cell wall is completely permeable which means it allows all types of molecules into the cell. They are metabolically inactive and non-living.

Functions of the Cell Wall

  1. Provide rigidity to the cell
  2. Protect the cell against external damage
  3. Define the cell morphology
  4. Prevent entry of large molecules into the cell
  5. Prevent the cell from being toxic
  6. Maintain the osmotic environment of the cell

Comparison Table: Cell Membrane Vs Cell Wall

Basic Terms Cell Membrane Cell Wall
MeaningIt is a thin and delicate structure of the cellIt is a thick and rigid structure of the cell
OccurrenceAll plants and animal cellsOccur in plants, bacteria, and fungi
CompositionLipids, proteins, and carbohydratesCellulose, chitin, and peptidoglycan
StructureThin and delicateThick and rigid
VisibilityUnder an electron microscopeUnder light microscope
PermeabilitySemi-permeableCompletely permeable
ReceptorsHave receptorsDo not have receptors
Metabolic functionActive and livingInactive and non-living
NutritionRequire proper nutrition for survivalNo need for nutrition
Main RoleProtect protoplasmProtect the cell from mechanical damage

Core Differences between Cell Membrane and Cell Wall

  1. The cell membrane protects the protoplasm while the cell wall protects the cell from mechanical damage
  2. Cell membrane need proper nutrition for survival while the cell wall does not need any nutrition
  3. The cell membrane is active and living metabolically while cell wall are inactive and non-living metabolically
  4. The cell membrane has receptors while the cell wall have no receptors
  5. The cell membrane is semi-permeable while the cell wall is permeable
  6. The cell membrane is thin and delicate while the cell wall is thick and rigid
  7. The cell membrane is visible under an electron microscope while cell wall are visible under a light microscope
  8. The cell wall consists of cellulose, chitin, and peptidoglycan while the cell membrane consists of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates
  9. The cell membrane is present in all types of cells while the cell wall is present in plants, bacterial and fungal
  10. The cell membrane is responsible for cell to cell communication while the cell wall is responsible for cell morphology
  11. The cell membrane is non-elastic while the cell wall is elastic
  12. The cell wall is a non-living part of the cell while the cell membrane is living

Similarities between Cell Membrane and Cell Wall

  1. Provide shape to the cell
  2. Provide protection
  3. Regulate the movement of molecules
  4. Provide rigidity and support to the cell

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Comparison Video

Summary

The main difference between the cell wall and the cell membrane is that the cell wall is common in plants, bacteria, and fungi while the cell membrane is common in all types of cells.

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