Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm

Main Difference – Cytoplasm vs Protoplasm

Living cells are mainly composed of cell membrane and cytoplasm. Apart from that, plant cells have a cell wall that surrounds the cell membrane. Cytoplasm and protoplasm are two terms that describe the living part of the cells. To be specific, Cytoplasm is the cell substance between the cell membrane and the nucleus, which contains the cytosol,  organelles,  cytoskeleton,  and various particles while protoplasm is the living content of a cell that is surrounded by the cell membrane. The protoplasm is composed of the nucleus, cell membrane, and the cytoplasm. Therefore, cytoplasm is a part of the protoplasm. This is why the names of these two components are often used interchangeably. However, as explained above, there exists a distinct difference between cytoplasm and protoplasm. The main difference between cytoplasm and protoplasm can be described as the presence of the nucleus; protoplasm consists of the nucleus while cytoplasm does not.

What is Cytoplasm

Cytoplasm is the fluid that fills the cell interior; it is the component between the cell membrane and nucleus. Organelles are embedded in the cytoplasm of the cell. The composition of the cytoplasm is similar to that of the protoplasm. It mainly consists of water, salts, and proteins.  It also consists of protein strands which help to hold the cell components in place.

Cytoplasm mainly consists of organelles such as Golgi bodies, mitochondria, chloroplasts (in plant cells), lysosomes, peroxisomes, endoplasmic reticulum and ribosomes.

Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm

Plant Cell Structure

What is Protoplasm

Protoplasm includes the components, cell membrane, and everything that is covered by the cell membrane. Therefore, it can be divided into two components as cytoplasm and nucleus. The appearance of the protoplasm varies with the amount of water it contains. Therefore, physical properties can be either as more liquid (sol) to more gelatinous (gel) forms.

Protoplasm contains both organic and inorganic substances;

Inorganic substances – water (contains 90% of the protoplasm), minerals, salts (NaCl), gases (O2, CO2)

Organic substances – Proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids

The amounts of above components can be varied, according to the position of the cells in the body. The nucleus that is in the protoplasm has nucleoplasm in it. However, in prokaryotic organisms, nucleoplasm (bioplasm) cannot be differentiated as they lack a nucleus. 

Functions of Protoplasm

Growth and division of the cell – cytoplasm increases its size before the cell division and the cell nucleus is involved in nuclear division.

Carrying out chemical processes – some of the reactions of photosynthesis and respiration is taking place in the cytoplasm.

Excretory waste management – excretory waste is disposed through the cell membrane.

Difference Between Cytoplasm and Protoplasm

Since cytoplasm is a part of protoplasm, there are a very few differences among them,


Cytoplasm is the fluid that consists of all of the contents outside of the nucleus sand enclosed within the cell membrane of a cell. 

Protoplasm is the colorless material consisting of the living part of a cell, including the cytoplasm, nucleus, and other organelles.


Cytoplasm is the fluid part of the protoplasm.

Protoplasm is the collection of the cell membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus.


Protoplasm includes the nucleus.

Nucleus is not included in the cytoplasm.

Chemical Constituents

Both cytoplasm and protoplasm share same chemical constituents. E.g. water, salts and proteins 

Difference Between cytoplasm and protoplasm - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Plant cell structure-en” by LadyofHats – Self-made using Adobe Illustrator. (Public Domain) via Commons 

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