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Chapter 3 Movement of Substances across the Plasma

3.1 Movement across the Plasma Membrane
• Substances required by the cell are nutrients (glucose and minerals) and
• Substances to be eliminated are metabolic wastes
• Why is this important?
• To continue cellular life process, concentration of ions inside the cell must be
different than outside the cell
• Maintain a constant cellular environment (homeostasis)
• Structure
• Composed of phospholipids and proteins
• Fluid-mosaic model

• Phospholipid bilayer
 barrier which isolates two sides of membrane
• Contains cholesterol  stabilize and strengthen plasma membrane
• Pore protein  forms channel/pore
• Carrier protein  acts as carrier
• Glycoprotein  protein with carbohydrate attached
• Fluidity of membrane  cells are more flexible
• The plasma membrane is semi-permeable/selectively permeable (only
some substances can pass through)
• Factors determining whether molecule can pass through  size and
• Molecules that can pass through
 Lipid-soluble molecules (fatty acids and glycerol)
 Non-polar molecules (oxygen and carbon dioxide)
 Small molecules such as water ( Basically water is a polar molecule. However, its
small size enables it to slide between phospholipid bilayer)
• Pore proteins allow small water–soluble molecules and ions to pass through
• Carrier proteins have site that can bind to specific molecules (glucose
molecules) before transporting them to plasma membrane.

Passive transport (movement of substances across plasma membrane without

input of energy) Example: gaseous exchange in alveolus and blood capillary

• Simple diffusion
 Movement of substances from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower
concentration, thus, going down a concentration gradient until a dynamic equilibrium is
• Osmosis: Diffusion of water
 Movement of water molecules from a dilute solution (water concentration high) to a
concentrated solution (water concentration low) through semi-permeable membrane
• Facilitated diffusion
 Movement of substances across plasma membrane with the aid of carrier proteins and
pores following the concentration gradient
 Example: ions, nucleic acids, amino acids and glucose
 Carrier protein are specific (only can bind with certain molecules)
 Pore proteins form pore/channel

Active transport
• Movement of solute/ion across plasma membrane against concentration gradient
• Requires energy and carrier protein
• Energy comes from ATP (adenosine triphosphate) generated during respiration in
• Carrier protein has an active site to bind with molecule and another active site to
bind with ATP. The carrier protein changes shape when phosphate group from ATP
binds to it. Then, the solute is moved across the membrane.
• Ex. Absorption of water and intake of ions in plants

Passive Transport Differences Active Transport

Follows concentration Concentration gradient Opposes concentration

gradient gradient

Does not need energy Cellular energy Consumes energy

Can take place in living Condition Can only take place in

cells or non-living living cells
physical conditions
3.2 Movement of Substances across the Plasma Membrane in Daily Life

• Hypotonic- A solution with higher water potential than another solution

• Hypertonic- A solution with lower water potential than another solution
• Isotonic- A solution with same water potential with another solution
• Haemolysis- The bursting of red blood cells
• Crenation- The shrinking of red blood cells
• Plasmolysis- A shrinking of cytoplasm due to osmosis
• Deplasmolysis- A process of a cell gaining its turgidity back

• Animal and Plant Cells in an Isotonic Solution

Water diffuses into and out of cell at equal rate. Hence, the cell retains its normal
shape.Likewise with the plant cell.

• Animal and Plant Cells in a Hypotonic Solution

In animal cell, water enters the cell and causes it to swell up and eventually to burst
(red blood cell). This is because the plasma membrane is too thin towithstand the
pressure. The bursting of red blood cells is known as haemolysis. In plant cell, water
enters the large central vacuole of the cell, causing the vacuole to expand and swell
up and the plasma membrane pushes against the cell wall. In this condition, the cell
is said to be turgid. The cell does not burst because the rigid cell wall able to
withstand the pressure. This condition creates turgor pressure. Turgidity is important
to support, give shape, and causing the guard cell to swell so that the stomata
remains open for photosynthesis.

• Animal and Plant Cells in a Hypertonic Solution

In animal cell, there is a net movement of water from inside to outside of the cell.
This causes the cell to shrink. In red blood cell, the cell shrivel and the plasma
membrane crinkles up. The cell has undergone crenation. In plant cell, water diffuses
out of vacuole through osmosis. Both vacuole and cytoplasm shrink and plasma
membrane pulls away from cell wall (plasmolysis). The cell becomes flaccid. The
flaccidity causes the plant to become limp and stem to drop (wilting). The cell can
deplasmolysed by immersing it back to a hypotonic solution.

• Wilting occurs in plants when too much fertilizers like potassium nitrate is
given. Too much fertilizers cause the soil to turn hypertonic to the plant cell.
As a result, water diffuses from the cell sap into the soil by osmosis and the
cell is plasmolysed. Water shortage in soil also causes the plant to wilt.

• Food such as mushrooms, fruits and fish can be preserved using natural
preservatives (salt and sugar). The preservative makes the surroundings
more hypertonic to the food and causes water to leave through osmosis. The
food becomes dehydrated. Microbes loses water to the surrounding and dies.

3.3 Appreciating the Movement of Substances across the Plasma

• The proper functioning of plasma membrane is important to:
 Maintain a suitable pH and ionic concentration inside the cell for enzymatic
 To obtain certain food supplies for energy and raw materials
 To remove toxic substances