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Passive Transports: Osmosis and Diffusion

• Osmosis — diffusion of water through a semipermeable membrane.

 The movement of particles (atoms, ions or molecules) from a region in which  Diffusion of solutes through transport proteins in the plasma membrane.
they are in higher concentration to regions of lower concentration.  Channel proteins, gated channel proteins, and carrier proteins are three types of
  A good example of diffusion is food colouring. If you place a drop of red food transport proteins that are involved in facilitated diffusion.
colouring in a beaker of water eventually the entire beaker of water will have a a) Carrier Protein - Membrane-spanning protein that carries an ion or
red tint. The food colouring moved through the water until it was equally molecule across the membrane by changing shape.
distributed throughout the beaker. Diffusion takes place along a concentration b) Channel Protein - Membrane-spanning transport protein that forms a
gradient. A concentration gradient exists until the diffused substance is evenly pore in the membrane; allows water molecules or small ions to diffuse
distributed. through the membrane.
CONCENTRATION GRADIENT c) Gated Channel Protein - Channel protein that can be opened or closed;
 The process of particles, which are sometimes called solutes, moving through a reacts to specific stimuli.
solution or gas from an area with a higher number of particles to an area with a OSMOSIS
lower number of particles. The areas are typically separated by a membrane.  Special case of diffusion involving water molecules. Water molecules move
This membrane can be permeable, semi-permeable, or non-permeable. from areas of high water concentration to areas of low water concentration
a) Permeable is defined as a membrane that can be crossed by particles, ions, through a selectively permeable membrane.
or water. Some major examples of osmosis
b) Semi-permeable means that some particles, ions, or water can cross the • Absorption of water by plant roots.
membrane. • Re-absorption of water by the proximal and distal convoluted tubules of the
c) Non-permeable membrane means that no particles, ions, or water can cross nephron.
the membrane. • Re-absorption of tissue fluid into the venule ends of the blood capillaries.
 Example a wooden log fence would allow many things to pass through - this • Absorption of water by the alimentary canal — stomach, small intestine and
would be an example of a permeable membrane. A chain link fence would allow the colon.
some small items to pass through it - this would be like a semi-permeable OSMOREGULATION
membrane. A solid plastic fence would not allow items to pass through it at all -  Keeping the concentration of cell cytoplasm or blood at a suitable concentration.
this would represent a non-permeable membrane. (a) Amoeba, living in freshwater, uses a contractile vacuole to expel the excess
Some major examples of diffusion in biology: water from its
• Gas exchange at the alveoli — oxygen from air to blood, carbon cytoplasm (thus need more respiration/O2/ATP than isotonic (marine)
dioxide from blood to air. Amoebae).
• Gas exchange for photosynthesis — carbon dioxide from air to (b) The kidneys maintain the blood (thus, whole body) at the correct
leaf, oxygen from leaf to air. concentration.
• Gas exchange for respiration — oxygen from blood to tissue cells, carbon OSMOSIS AND PLANT CELLS
dioxide in (a) Plant Cells in a hypotonic (= weaker) solution – cells have lower water
opposite direction. potential
• Transfer of transmitter substance — acetylcholine from presynaptic to a.the plant cells gain water by osmosis.
postsynaptic b. the vacuole and cytoplasm increase in volume.
membrane at a synapse. c.the cell membrane is pushed harder
Passive Transports: Osmosis and Diffusion
d. against the cell wall causing it to stretch a little.
e.the plant tissue becomes stiffer (= turgid).
(b) Plant Cells in a hypertonic (=stronger) solution – cells have higher water
potential the plant cells lose water by osmosis.
a.the vacuole and cytoplasm decrease in volume.
b. the cell shrinks away from the cell wall.
c.shrinkage stops when the cell sap is at the same concentration as the external
d. the plant tissue becomes flaccid, it has shrunk slightly may go on to
become plasmolysed.
 The pressure of the swollen cell contents against the cell wall when the external
solution more dilute than the cell sap of the vacuole.
Role of Turgor in Plants
 Mechanical support for soft non-woody tissue, e.g., leaves.
 Change in shape of guard cells forming the stomatal opening between
 Enlargement of young immature plant cells to mature size.
 This is the tendency of water to move from one place to another.
 Values are always negative!
 Water always flows downhill i.e. towards the more negative number.
 Units are pressure (kPa)
 Calculations are not set, but this formula may be:
 Water Potential (ψ) = Pressure Potential (ψp) + Solute Potential (ψs)
 Pressure Potential = the force of the cell wall on the contents,
 so for animal cells, this is zero, thus, in animals:
 Water Potential (ψ) = Solute Potential (ψs)