Compare and Contrast: Chloroplasts and Mitochondria

Updated on November 8, 2015

Chloroplast and Mitochondria are organelles found in the cells of living organisms and perform functions vital for the cell to live.

This article will go over the characteristics of these organelles as well as the major differences differences and similarities of these organelles.


Known as the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria are kind of like the digestive system, taking in nutrients and breaking them down to give the cell energy. Mitochondria help take energy from sugar or glucose and convert it into a simpler form, called ATP, that the cell can more easily use. This process is called cellular respiration, and the mitochondria plays a central role in it.

Mitochondria Structure & Function

Mitochondria are composed of two membranes.

  • An outer membrane covers the organelle like a skin, protecting it.
  • An inner membrane, that is folded over again and again to create a layered structure called crista, which is studded with proteins. The fluid inside these folds is called the matrix.


Chloroplast Function

Chloroplasts are very similar to mitochondria, but are found only in the cells of plants and some algae. Like mitochondria, chloroplasts produce food for their cells. Chloroplasts help turn sunlight into food that can be used by the cell, a process known as photosynthesis.

Chloroplast Structure

Like the mitochondria, the chloroplast has an inner and outer membrane. Inside those membranes are its different parts, which include thylakoids and stroma. A stack of thylakoids is called a grana (pl. granum).

Chlorophyll molecules on the thylakoids capture sunlight and begin the process of photosynthesis. The molecules created by this reaction then move to the stroma, which synthesizes the sugars and “fixes” the CO2.

Plant Cell vs. Animal Cell

Chloroplast & Mitochondria: Similarities & Differences


  • convert energy
  • have its own DNA
  • enclosed by two membranes
  • oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are involved in its processes
  • have fluids inside of it



  • plural: chloroplasts
  • usually found in plants and unicellular organisms
  • converts solar/light energy into chemical energy (sugar)
  • process is photosynthesis: composed of Light Reactions and Calvin Benson Cycle
  • has three compartments(parts): thylakoids (traps sunlight), granum (pl: grana; stacks of thylakoids), stroma (fluid inside the outer membrane, which interacts with the cytoplasm. It surrounds the granum and thylakoids
  • plural: mitochondria
  • found in almost all cells
  • converts chemical energy (sugar) into another form of chemical energy (ATP), which is simpler and could be used by the cell
  • process is cellular respiration: composed of Glycolysis, ETC, and Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • has two compartments. Crista (pl:cristae) is the compartment formed by the inner and outer membrane of the mitochondria; it is the layer of folds in the mitochondria and is studded with proteins. The other compartment is called matrix; it is the fluid inside the foldings (cristae).


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