Difference Between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Flagella

Prokaryotic vs Eukaryotic Flagella

Certain eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells have long wipe like appendages or projections called flagella. This structure is vital in locomotion of both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Though the function is the same, there are some differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic flagella. They mainly differ in the ways of protein composition, structure, and operation mechanism.

Prokaryotic Flagella

Prokaryotic flagella are structurally very simple and are made up of a single fiber of the flagellin protein, which has 53KDa subunit. The motion of Prokaryotic flagella is whirling like or spinning like. Bacterial flagella are normally visible only under the electron microscope and are located in entirely outside of the plasma membrane.

Eukaryotic Flagella

The structure of eukaryotic flagellum is complex, and it has 9+2 microtubule structure. The flagellum of eukaryotes is usually surrounded by cell membrane and composed of tubulin. The motion of eukaryotic flagella is a wipe like or “S” shaped. Cilium is another appendage that is similar to flagella which is found in eukaryotic cells. Usually eukaryotic cell has about one or two flagella. Sperm cell is an example for flagellated eukaryotic cell, and moves by means of single flagellum. Eukaryotic flagella are vigorous in movements involving feeding and sensation.

What is the difference between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Flagella?

• Prokaryotic flagella are smaller and simple in structure, whereas eukaryotic flagella are larger and complex in structure.

• Prokaryotic flagella are made up of flagellin protein while eukaryotic flagella are made up of tubulin.

• The movement of prokaryotic flagella is proton driven, whereas the movement of eukaryotic flagella is ATP driven.

• Prokaryotic flagella have rotator movement, whereas eukaryotic flagella have blending movement.

• Unlike the prokaryotic flagella, eukaryotic flagella have 9+2 arrangement of microtubules.

• Prokaryotic flagella are located outside of the plasma membrane, whereas the flagella in eukaryotes are covered with the plasma membrane.