What is the Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm

There is a significant Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm. The cytoplasm is the liquid part of the cell that contains the nucleus and the ribosome. Protoplasm is the granular material, semifluid or viscous. The cytoplasm is not only the liquid part of the cell, it also contains the nucleus and ribosomes.

What is the Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm

In 1835, a thick, small and gel-like liquid was found in the cells of plants and animals. A mitochondrion is an organelle found in the cytoplasm. This organelle is separated by a liquid substance known as the "cell membrane". And the Protoplasm was described by Van Leeuwenhoek in 1683.

Table of Contents.
What is Cytoplasm?
What is Protoplasm?
Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm
General Difference
Structural Difference
Functional Difference

What is Cytoplasm?

What is Cytoplasm?

The question can also be best answered by discussing the integral part of this gel-like fluid of the plant and animal cells. From the description itself, “gel-like fluid or substance” one of the crucial functions of the cytoplasm is to act like a fluid. Being a fluid or substance, the organelles in the cytoplasm can freely and safely move around the cell. Cytoplasm holds the organelles in place. 

Thus, organelles are kept well-supported. Cytoplasm provides nourishment to the cell's organelles. The cytoplasm attains cell functions, processes, and activities. Without a cytoplasm, these important cellular processes are disrupted. This in turn affects the overall function of plant and animal cell. Glycolysis and cell division are examples of metabolic pathways and processes that occur in the cytoplasm.

If in the event the cytoplasm is damaged, movement of calcium ions that occur within the borders of the cytoplasm is not possible. The processes and movements of calcium ions are very important in the life cycle of a cell. Damage cytoplasm can trigger imbalance on the metabolic activity of the cell, which is signaled by the calcium ion movement.

With cytoplasm, cell life is maintained. This is due for a fact that cytoplasm supports many vital biochemical reactions. 

While the substance provides nourishment to the cell, it is also the place where cell reproduction, expansion, and growth take place. A cell is constituted with many different elements. 

And with cytoplasm, movement of these elements within the cell is possible. Cytoplasm contains an enzyme that is responsible in breaking down macromolecules so that it can easily be absorbed, used, and digested by the cell's mitochondria and other cell organelles. 

Glucose, for example, needs to be broken down into pyruvate before it can be used by the cell's mitochondrion. Fatty acids, sugar, and amino acids are synthesized by the cytoplasm. The aforementioned functions of cytoplasm make the substance an integral part of the cell.

What is Protoplasm?

What is Protoplasm?

The word protoplasm is formed from the word "proto" and the Greek plasma ("molded", "shaped"). Protoplasm is the contents of a cell of a living organism, or otherwise a living substance from which a living organism is built. 

In their physical properties, chemical composition and structural and morphological features of the protoplasm of people, animals, plants and even unicellular organisms are very similar, which indicates the unity of living nature. 

The cellular theory, which appeared as a result of the study of the cellular structure of organisms, gave an idea of the protoplasm. At the time of the development of the cell theory, it was believed that the main structure of the cell is the shell, and its contents were in the background. 

Botanists of the 19th century did not consider the contents of a cell to be mandatory, for example, a vessel and what may or may not be in it. 

But in the middle of the 19th century, the same botanists began to come to a consensus that the main substrate of life is the contents of the cell. 

The botanist H. Moll was very advanced in this direction, and even then, he used the term “protoplasm” in his works. 

But the first to use this word was a scientist from the Czech Republic - J. Purkine, who used it to denote a substance from which the development of cells in animals’ proceeds. 

On the other hand, scientists’ zoologists, one of whom was the Frenchman F. Dujardin, studied protists and a gelatinous substance called sarcode. 

The German botanist F. Cohn was able to unite the efforts of zoologists and botanists, proving that the protoplasm of plant cells and the sarcode of animals are one and the same substance.

Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm

Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm



Jelly-like substance inside the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell

Cell enzymes are not chaotically located

Internal fluid within a cell

Collective material of all living organisms

Made up of a gelatinous substance called cytosol and all cell organelles

Consists of the cytosol, cell organelles along with the nucleus

Not includes the nucleus

Includes the nucleus


  • Cytoplasm is the jelly-like substance inside the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell. This cytoplasm forms the supporting structure for the cell. It occupies the space outside the nucleus and inside the cell membrane. The cytoplasm together with mitochondria, vacuoles and other organelles make up the cytoplasmic matrix.

  • Cell enzymes are not chaotically located in the protoplasm, but are fixed in intracellular structures. The structure of protoplasm, its relationship with functions. 

  • Cytoplasm is the internal fluid within a cell. All parts of a cell are made up of cytoplasm, including the nucleus and organelles. Protoplasm is the collective material of all living organisms (bacteria, plants, animals, and protozoans). It is the jelly-like substance that comprises living cells.

  • Protoplasm at the level of ultrastructure gave impetus to the development of such a direction as molecular biology. Sometimes protoplasm is mistakenly called another part of the cell, extra-nuclear, which is actually the cytoplasm.

  • Cytoplasm is the internal component of an animal cell and is also known as cytosol. It contains water, salts, and the macromolecules that the cell uses to do its work. Protoplasm is the living contents of a cell. It includes the cytoplasm and other structures such as mitochondria and nuclei.

  • The cytoplasm is the fluid inside of our cells and the primary site of chemical reactions. The cytoplasm contains the organelles, which are the bodies of the cells. The most common organelles are the nucleus, smooth endoplasmic reticulum, rough endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, mitochondria and ribosomes. Protoplasm is a general term for unspecialized material inside a cell.

  • Cytoplasm and Protoplasm are the two kinds of protoplasm. Cytoplasm is the contents of a cell excluding the nucleus and the cell membrane. Protoplasm is also the contents of a cell, excluding the nucleus and the cell membrane; it is a protein-rich gel. 

  • The cytoplasm is the substance inside a cell that constitutes the cell's component parts. Some of the components are fluid (cytosol and intercellular fluid) and others are solid (cell membrane and nucleus). The nucleus, the main organelle of animal and fungal cells, performs the cell's basic functions of transcription and replication. Protoplasm is the material that makes up all parts of the organisms that have cells, including those of humans.

  • The cytoplasm contains all the cell components apart from the cell membrane, which is the outer boundary of the cell, the wall of the cell, which secures the cytoplasm; and the nucleus, the central body of the cell, which contains the DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid. The protoplasm is made of a jelly-like substance, is the main part of the cell that is responsible for the movement and structural shape of the cell. The protoplasm, or protoplasmic substance, is the substance of the cell, which has a jelly-like texture.

  • The cytoplasm is the fluid contained within the cell. The cytoplasm is found between the cell's plasma membrane and the cell's nucleus and contains the cell's other organelles. The protoplasm represents the cell's more solid components, such as the cell's nucleus, mitochondria, ribosomes, and ribonucleic acid (RNA) which is the molecule that contains the DNA. The protoplasm contains all the other biochemical components, and these comprise the majority of the cell's contents.

  • Cytoplasm and protoplasm are two types of cell components in animal cells. Cytoplasm is the part of the cell that contains the protoplasm and the organelles, and is located inside the cell's plasma membrane. Protoplasm is the clear liquid within the cytoplasm of cells. It is also the thin layer of fluid that surrounds the whole cell, which is called the cell's cytoplasm or cytoplasmic layer.

General Difference

The cytoplasm contains all of the organelles in the cell and the protoplasm consists of the plasma membrane, the sarcoplasm, the cytosol, and the nucleoplasm, however, the protoplasm is much less dense than the cytoplasm. This is because the cytoplasm is more rigid and therefore has a higher density.

Structural Difference

Cytosol and protoplasm are both composed of water and dissolved macromolecules such as protein and RNA; however, their macromolecular compositions differ. Cytoplasm is not structurally homogeneous and contains a variety of structures; whereas, protoplasm is relatively homogeneous without a definite structure. 

Moreover, there is no nucleus in cytoplasm. It is difficult to identify any structural differences between protoplasm and cytoplasm; however, they differ in their macromolecular compositions.

Functional Difference

The cytoplasm is the part of the cell that provides the cell's structure, and the protoplasm is the part of the cell that provides the cell's function. 

In other words, the cytoplasm provides the cell's structure, which supports and holds the cell in its place; in contrast, the protoplasm provides the cell with its function, which allows the cell to function. 

When we consider the difference between the cytoplasm and the protoplasm, we find that the cytoplasm is the part of a cell that holds the cell's structure and the protoplasm is the part of the cell that provides the cell's function.

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Here are some frequently asked questions that you might find helpful: -

Q1. Is cytoplasm is also called protoplasm?

Answer. Yes. Although cytoplasm is primarily the material of the cell, it is often called protoplasm because of its role in reproduction as the material that forms the oolemma and the zona pellucida, the membranes that surround the egg and the blastomeres of the embryo, respectively. (The zona pellucida is a viscous gelatinous coat that prevents the egg from implanting in the uterine wall and from implanting in foreign tissue.) Cytoplasm seems to be the main source of nutrients for the embryo.

Q2. What is protoplasm theory?

Answer. Protoplasm theory is the theory that living organisms are composed of protoplasm. The protoplasm is the substance used to make the living organism, and without the protoplasm, the living organism is not alive. The protoplasm is like a soup of proteins and molecules that give the living organism its structure, shape, and organization. The protoplasm is also the central substance of the living organism.

Q3. What are the two major subdivisions of the protoplasm of a cell?

Answer. There are two major subdivisions of the protoplasm of a cell. The first is the cytoplasm, which is the main part of a cell. The second is its nucleus or nucleoplasm. If you thought of the cytoplasm as the water of a cell, the nucleus would be the dirt in it.

Q4. What is the function of protoplasm?

Answer. Protoplasm is the basic building material of all living cells. It provides the structural framework for the cell. It provides the raw materials for growth. It provides the basic force, or energy, for all processes of organic life.

Q5. Are the major lipids of plasma membranes?

Answer. Plasma membranes are made of lipids. Plasma membrane lipids consist of phospholipids, sphingolipids, and glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins, where the latter are anchored to the membranes by the GPI anchor. Phospholipids are the major neutral lipids in plasma membranes, and consist of phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylinositol, and phosphatidylglycerol. Sphingolipids are the major anionic lipids in plasma membranes, and consist of sphingomyelin, ceramide.

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