Prokaryotic cell is a unicellular organism lacking membrane-bound organelles.
The characteristics of prokaryotic cells are as follows:
Most of them are unicellular.
They are generally small in size. The size of a prokaryotic cell varies from 0.5 – 5 μm.
The nuclear region of a prokaryotic cell is poorly-defined because of the absence of a nuclear membrane. Hence, a prokaryotic cell lacks a true nucleus.
The genetic materials of prokaryotic cells are naked. They contain single, circular chromosomes. In addition to the genomic DNA, they have a small, circular plasmid DNA.
They have specialised membranous structures called mesosomes. Mesosomes are formed by the invagination of the cell membrane. These extensions help in the synthesis of the cell wall, replication of DNA. They also help in the equal distribution of chromosomes into the daughter cells.
Membrane-bound cell organelles such as mitochondria, plastids, and endoplasmic reticulum are absent from a prokaryotic cell.
Most prokaryotic cells contain a three-layered structure – outermost glycocalyx, middle cell wall, and the innermost plasma membrane. This structure acts as a protective unit.
Examples of prokaryotic cells include blue green algae, bacteria, etc.