CHAPTER 3

:
MEMBRANE
3.1

THE MOVEMENT OF SUBSTANCES ACROSS THE PLASMA

MOVEMENT ACROSS THE PLASMA MEMBRANE

3.1.1 NECESSITY FOR MOVEMENT OF SUBSTANCES ACROSS THE PLASMA MEMBRANE
1.

To provide all substances required by the cells eg: oxygen, digested food like glucose, amino acids and
fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

2.

To excrete the waste products eg: urea and carbon dioxide from the cells.

3.

To maintain the concentration of ions that are needed for the activities of cells eg: potassium ions (K +)
and sodium ions (Na+) are needed to transmit impulses.

4.

To maintain the optimal pH value by regulating the concentration of hydrogen ions (H +), hydroxyl ions
(OH-) and hydrogen carbonate ions (or bicarbonate ions HCO3-)

3.1.2 THE STRUCTURE OF THE PLASMA MEMBRANE
1.

The plasma membrane is the boundary which separates the protoplasm of the each cell from its
surroundings.

2.

S.J.Singer and G.Nicholson proposed the fluid mosaic model to describe the structure of the plasma
membrane in 1972.

3.

Based on the fluid mosaic model, the plasma membrane :
a-

is comprised of phospholipid bilayer with various types of protein molecules embedded
in it in which it is pictured as a mosaic.
bhas the fluidity characteristics as as the phospholipid bilayer, protein and other
components are dynamic and flexible and all proteins molecules can float about in the
phospholipid bilayer to form the mosaic pattern that always changes.
chas amphiphatic phospholipid molecules. Each phospholipid molecule consists of two
regions ie :
ihydrophilic polar head which is attracted to water and
iihydrophobic non-polar tail which is attracted to lipids.
dhas cholesterol molecules to stabilize and strengthen the PM, making it more

flexible and less permeable to water soluble substances eg: ions.
e-

f-

has various types of embedded protein molecules such as :ithe pore or channel protein molecules that provide passages to allow certain
molecules to pass through
iithe carrier protein molecules which can carry specific molecules across the
plasma
membrane
iiithe identification protein molecules which give the identification to the cells.
has the semi-permeability characteristic which allows certain molecules to move
across it and not to the other molecules.

4.

There are two types of transportation of substances across the plasma membrane ie:
i–
passive transport
ii –
active transport

5.

The passive transport is classified into three types ie:
isimple diffusion
iifascilitated diffusion
iiiosmosis

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phospholipid
bilayer

carrier protein

a phospholipid
pore / channel
molecule
protein

ATP molecule

cholesterol

carrier protein

pore / channel

The structure of plasma membrane
3.1.3 COMPARISON BETWEEN PASSIVE TRANSPORT AND ACTIVE TRANSPORT ACROSS THE PLASMA MEMBRANE
Comparison
aspect

Passive transport

Simple diffusion

Facilitated diffusion

Active transport

Osmosis

Definition

Movement of the
molecules from a higher
concentration region to a
lower concentration
region without using
energy until the two regions
reach the equilibrium.

Movement of the
molecules from a higher
concentration region to a
lower concentration
region by the aid of the
carrier protein or
pore/channel protein
without using energy
until the two regions reach
the equilibrium.

Movement of ( the solvent
molecules eg:) water
molecules from a
dilute/hypotonic solution to
a concentrate/hypertonic
solution (across a semipermeable membrane (S-PM))
without using energy until
the two regions (which are
separated by the S-PM) reach
the equilibrium.

Movement of ions from a
lower concentration region to
a higher concentration
region across the membrane
plasma of living cells using
energy based on the ion's
requirement of the cells

Concentration

Follows the CG

Follows the CG

Follows the CG

Against the CG

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gradient (CG)
Type of
substances
transported

Small, uncharged, water
soluble, lipid soluble
molecules

1- Large and uncharged
2- ion (small charged
molecules)

Solvent molecules

Ion/small charged molecules

Example of
substances

O2, CO2, water soluble
vitamins ie Vit B & C, lipid
soluble vitamins ie Vit A, D,
E&K

Glucose, amino acids and
ions

Water molecules

Sodium ions, potassium ions

Means of
transport

Molecules move freely
through the phospholipid
bilayer across the plasma
membrane (PM)

Molecules move through
pore/channel protein or
carrier protein molecules
across the PM

Molecules move freely through
the phospholipid bilayer
across the PM

Molecules move through
specific carrier protein
molecules across the PM

Energy
requirement

Does not require energy

Does not require energy

Does not require energy

Involvement of
semi-permeable
membrane (SPM)

Does not involve

Involves the S-PM

Involves the S-PM

Requires a lot of energy in for
of ATP produced by the
mitochondria
Involves the plasma membrane
of living cells

Involvement of
pore protein

Does not involve

Involves the pore protein
which allows ions or
polarized molecules to
pass through it

Does not involve

Does not involve

Involvement of
carrier protein

Does not involve

Involves the carrier
protein to carry such
large molecules eg:
glucose and amino acids
across the PM

Does not involve

Involves the carrier protein

Requirement to
reach
equilibrium

The two regions reach
equilibrium

The two regions reach
equilibrium

The two regions reach
equilibrium

Depends on cell requirement
eg: if a cell requires a lot of ion
A so, ion A will be taken into the
cell continuously.

Example based
on daily life

Diffusion of oxygen and
carbon dioxide in the
alveoli

Absorption of glucose in
the small intestine

1- Absorption of water by
the root hair cell
2- Preservation of food

Absorption of iodide ions by
the sea food

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3.2

THE MOVEMENT OF SUBSTANCES ACROSS THE PM IN EVERYDAY LIFE

(A)

CONCEPT OF PASSIVE TRANSPORT

I

Determine the substance to be transported across the PM

II

Determine, state and compare the two regions with different concentration of the
particular substance

III

State the direction of diffusion of the substance ie : from the higher concentration region to the
lower concentration region

IV

state the method of diffusion ie: by simple diffusion or facilitated diffusion.

Examples :(1) The gaseous exchange at the alveoli
a- Diffusion of Oxygen
The concentration of oxygen is higher in the alveoli as
compared to the concentration of oxygen in the blood
capillaries.
Oxygen (dissolves in the moist of the alveoli) diffuses
out of the alveoli into the blood capillaries by simple
diffusion.
b-Diffusion of Carbon dioxide
The concentration of carbon dioxide is higher in the
blood capillaries as compared to the concentration of
carbon dioxide in the alveoli.
Carbon dioxide (dissolves in the blood plasma) diffuses
out of the blood capillaries into the alveoli by simple
diffusion.
(2)

A longitudinal section of an alveoli

The absorption of digested food in the small

intestine
a- Absorption of glucose / amino acids
The concentration of glucose / amino acid is higher in
the lumen of small intestine as compared to the
concentration of glucose / amino acids in the blood
capillaries of the villi.
Glucose / Amino acid diffuses from the lumen of the
small intestine into the blood capillaries of the villi by
facilitated diffusion.
b- Absorption of fatty acids and glycerol
The concentration of fatty acids and glycerol is higher in
the lumen of the small intestine as compared to the
concentration of the fatty acids and glycerol in the
lacteals of the villi.
Fatty acids and glycerol diffuse from the lumen of the
small intestine into the lacteals of the villi by simple
diffusion.

A longitudinal section of a villus

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THE ROLE OF PROTEIN MOLECULES IN FACILITATED DIFFUSION
Carrier protein
- can change its shape so that it fits the shape of a
specific large and uncharged molecules eg : glucose
and amino acids.

Pore protein / channel protein
- has pore / channel to provide a passage for a
non-specific small molecules and ion eg : mineral
ions to pass through follows the concentration
gradient.

Mechanism of transport :
Mechanism of transport :
1-molecules move to the binding site of the specific
CP.
2- molecules bind to the CP at the binding site.
3- CP changes its shape and carry the molecules
across the PM follows the concentration gradient.

1-molecules/ ions move to the pore/chanel protein
2- molecules/ions move via the pore/chanel
provided across the PM follows the concentration
gradient.

4- CP returns to its normal shape.
(reference : Bio Form 4 Textbook, figure 3.5, pg 46)

(reference : Bio Form 4 Textbook, figure 3.6, pg 46)

(B)

CONCEPT OF OSMOSIS

I

Bear in mind that only water molecules can be transported across the PM by osmosis.

II

Determine, state and compare the two solutions (that are separated by a SP-M) with
different tonicity ie : distilled water is hypotonic as compared to the cytoplasm of the RBC

III

State the direction of diffusion (movement) of water molecules ie : water molecules diffuse
from the hypotonic solution to the hypertonic solution (across the PM or other semi- permeable
membrane) by osmosis.

IV

State the effects of the solution on cells/tissues.

TONICITY OF THE SOLUTION
TONICITY OF THE
SOLUTION

DEFINITION

Hypotonic solution

The solution with a lower concentration of solute than the cytoplasm / cell sap eg
: Distilled water (dH2O), sodium chloride solution < 0.85%, sucrose solution <
16%

Isotonic solution

The solution of equal solute concentration with the cytoplasm / cell sap eg :
sodium chloride solution 0.85%, sucrose solution 16%

Hypertonic solution

The solution with a higher concentration of solute than the cytoplasm / cell sap
eg : Sodium chloride solution > 0.85%, sucrose solution > 16%

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EFFECTS OF HYPOTONIC, ISOTONIC AND HYPERTONIC SOLUTIONS ON PLANT AND
ANIMAL CELLS AND PLANT TISSUES
(1) Plant cell eg : epidermal cell of scale leaf of onion
Situation : A plant cell is immersed in the stated solution for 10 minutes and observation is carried out.
(a) Hypotonic solution eg : distilled water

Distilled water is hypotonic to the (cell sap of a) plant
cell.
Water molecules diffuse into (the cell sap of) the plant
cell by osmosis.
Volume of the vacuole increases so it expands (and
exerts pressure outwards on the cell wall).

A normal cell

A turgid cell

(b) Isotonic solution eg : Sucrose solution 16%

Cell becomes turgid.
Sucrose solution 16 % is isotonic to the (cell sap of a)
plant cell.
Water molecules diffuse into and out (of the cell sap) of
the plant cell at the same rate by osmosis. (Nett water
movement is zero)
The cell’s shape and volume remains the same.

The treated cell shows no changes in shape and
volume.

(a) Hypertonic solution eg : Sucrose solution 25%

Cell maintains its turgidity.

Sucrose solution 25% is hypertonic to the (cell sap of
a) plant cell.
Water molecules diffuse out of( the cell sap of) the
plant cell to the sucrose solution 25% by osmosis.
Volume of the vacuole decreases and it shrinks. The PM
is pulled away from the cell wall.

A normal cell
A flaccid cell
(or a plasmolysed

The cell undergoes plasmolysis and becomes flaccid
/plasmolysed.

cell)
(a) Immersing a plasmolysed cell in distilled water

Distilled water is hypotonic to the( cell sap of a)
plasmolysed cell.
Water molecules diffuse from distilled water into the
plasmolysed cell by osmosis.
Volume of the vacuole increases rapidly and it expands
(and exerts pressure outwards on the cell wall) .

A plasmolysed cell
(2)

A turgid cell

The plasmolysed cell undergoes deplasmolysis.

Animal cell eg : red blood cell (RBC)

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Situation : RBCs are immersed in the stated solution for 10 minutes and observation is carried out.

(a) Hypotonic solution eg : distilled water

Distilled water is hypotonic to the (cytoplasm of the)
RBC.
Water molecules diffuse into the (cytoplasm of the) RBC
by osmosis.
Volume of the cytoplasm increases. The PM of the RBC
expands and finally burst.

Normal RBC

A haemolysed RBC
RBC undergoes haemolysis.

(b) Isotonic solution eg : sodium chloride solution
0.85%

Sodium chloride solution 0.85% is isotonic to the
(cytoplasm of) RBC.
Water molecules diffuse into and out of the (cytoplasm of
the) RBCs at the same rate by osmosis. (Nett water
movement is zero)
The shape and volume of the RBC remains the same.

The treated RBC shows no changes in shape and
volume.

Hypertonic solution eg: sodium chloride solution
2%.

Sodium chloride solution 2%
(cytoplasm of the) RBC.

is hypertonic to the

Water molecules diffuse out of the (cytoplasm of the)
RBC to the sodium chloride solution 2% by osmosis.
Volume of the cytoplasm decreases and the PM of the
RBC shrinks.
The RBC undergoes crenation.
Normal RBC

A crenated RBC

(3)
Plant tissue eg : potato strip
Situation : A plant tissue is immersed in the stated solution for 30 minutes and observation is carried out

(a) Hypotonic solution eg : distilled water

Distilled water is hypotonic to the (cell sap of each cell of
a) potato strip.

Before immersion = …………… mm
Water molecules diffuse from distilled water into the (cell
sap of each cell of the) potato strip by osmosis.
After immersion = …………….. mm

(Volume of the vacuole of each cell in the potato strip
increases so vacuole expands and becomes turgid).
The cells become turgid.
The mass, size, length of potato strip increases.

(b) Isotonic solution eg : sucrose solution 16%

Sucrose solution 16 % is isotonic to the (cell sap of each
cell of a) potato strip.

Before immersion = ……………..mm

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Water molecules diffuse into and out of the (cell sap of
each cell of the) potato strip at the same rate by
osmosis. (Nett water movement is zero)
(Each cell’s shape and volume remains the same).

After immersion = ……………mm

The turgidity of cell remains the same.
The mass, size and length of the potato strip remains the
same.
(c) Hypertonic solution eg : sucrose solution 25%

Sucrose solution 25% is hypertonic to the (cell sap of
each cell of a) potato strip.

Before immersion = …………….mm
Water molecules diffuse out of the (cell sap of each cell
of the) potato strip to the sucrose solution 25% by
osmosis.
After immersion = ……………..mm

(Volume of the vacuole of each cell decreases due to
water loss and it shrinks).
The cells are flaccid/plasmolysed.
The potato strip wilts / softens and the mass, size and
length decreases.

(4)
Waxy cuticle covered-plant tissue eg : spinach stem
Situation : A waxy cuticle covered-plant tissue is immersed in the stated solution for 30 minutes and
observation is carried out.
(a) Hypotonic solution eg : distilled
water
Before immersion

After

immersion

Distilled water is hypotonic to the spinach stem.
Water molecules diffuse into the cell of cut region(which is not
covered with waxy cuticle layer) by osmosis.
Water molecules cannot diffuse into the waxy cuticle covered-cells
as the waxy cuticle layer is water proof.
Cells at the cut region are turgid and increase in length, whereas
waxy cuticle covered-cells show no change in length so the spinach
stem curved outwards.

(b)Isotonic solution eg : sucrose sol.
16%
Before immersion

After

immersion

Sucrose solution 16 % is isotonic to the spinach stem.
Water molecules diffuse into and out of the cell of the cut region at
the same rate by osmosis.
Water molecules cannot diffuse into or out of waxy cuticle coveredcells as the waxy cuticle layer is water proof.
The turgidity of cell, mass, size and length of the spinach stem
remains the same.

Hypertonic solution eg : sucrose sol.
25%
Before immersion

After

Sucrose solution 25% is hypertonic to the spinach stem.
Water molecules diffuse out of the cell of the cut region to the
sucrose solution 25% by osmosis.

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immersion

Water molecules cannot diffuse out of waxy cuticle covered-cells as
the waxy cuticle layer is water proof.
Cells at the cut region decrease in length whereas waxy cuticle
covered-cells show no change in length so the spinach stem curved
inwards.

The table below summarizes the effects of solutions of different tonicity on cells and tissue
Tonicity of the
solution
Hypotonic

Plant cell

Effect of the solution on
Animal cell (RBC)

Plant tissue

Becomes more turgid

Haemolysis occurs.

Length / mass / size

Isotonic
Hypertonic

No changes
Plasmolysis occurs. Cell

Cell is haemolysed.
No changes
Crenation occurs.

increases
No changes
Length / mass / size

is plasmolysed / flaccid

Cell is crenated.

decreases

The example of osmosis process in living organisms is the absorption of water by root hair cells in
plants.

The soil water is hypotonic to (the cell sap of) the root hair cell. Water molecules diffuse into (the cell
sap of) the root hair cell by osmosis. Now, the root hair cell is hypotonic to the adjacent cells so water
molecules diffuse (from the root hair cell) into the adjacent cells by osmosis. Next, the adjacent cells
are hypotonic to the vessel xylem so water molecules diffuse (from the adjacent cell) into the vessel
xylem by osmosis.

(C)

CONCEPT OF ACTIVE TRANSPORT

I

Determine and state the ion to be transported across the PM of living cells

II

Determine, state and compare the two regions with different concentration of the ion.

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III

State the direction of movement of the ion i.e: from the lower concentration region to the higher
concentration region using energy / ATP by active transport

Example :1
Absorption of iodide ions by the seaweed / seafood
The concentration of iodide ion in the sea water is lower than the concentration of iodide ion in
the seaweed / seafood.
Iodide ion diffuses from the sea water into the seaweed/ seafood using energy/ATP by active
transport.

2

Absorption of nitrate ions by the root hair cell
The concentration of nitrate ion in the soil water is lower than the concentration of nitrate ion in
the cell sap of the root hair cell.
Nitrate ion diffuses from the soil water into the root hair cell using energy/ATP by active transport.

THE ROLE OF CARRIER PROTEIN IN TRANSPORTATION ACROSS THE PM BY ACTIVE
TRANSPORT
1

CP has shape that fits the shape of a specific mineral ions eg : sodium ion.

2

Mechanism of transport by the CP in active transport :a- Ions move to the binding site of the specific CP
b- CP changes its shape by using energy/ATPs
c- Ions bind to the CP at the binding site and forms the CP-Ion complex
d- Energy/ATP is supplied so that the CP-Ion complex can across the PM against the
concentration gradient.
e- CP releases ions at the higher concentration region.
f- CP changes back to normal shape and returns to its initial position.

APPLICATION OF THE TRANSPORT ACROSS THE PM
1

Phenomenon of wilting in plants due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers
- Excess fertilizers dissolve in soil water.
- Soil water becomes hypertonic to the cell cap of the root hair cell.
- Water molecules diffuse out of the root hair cells to the soil water

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by osmosis

Concept of

- Each plant cell undergoes plasmolysis and becomes flaccid due to

osmosis

water loss / dehydration and vacuole shrinks
-cause the plant to wilt.
2(a)

Preservation of food - Salting
- Food can be preserved using concentrated salt solution (CSS)
eg: salted fish, salted cuttlefish etc.
- Food is immersed in the concentrated salt solution (1 – 3 weeks)
- CSS is hypertonic to the food.

Concept of

- Water molecules diffuse out of the food to the CSS by osmosis.

osmosis

- Food dehydrates due to water loss.
- Water molecules diffuse out of the microorganisms by osmosis too
.

-Microorganisms dehydrate due to water loss
- The food is being preserved as microorganisms cannot grow in dehydrated
food and microorganisms are dehydrated too
- Salted food can last longer.
(b)

Preservation of food - Pickling
- Food eg vegetables and young mango fruits can be preserved using vinegar ..
- Food is immersed in the vinegar
- Vinegar is acidic.
- Vinegar diffuses into the food by simple diffusion

Concept of
follows the CG

Simple diffusion

- The food turns acidic
- Microorganisms cannot survive in acidic condition.
- Food is being preserved because microorganisms cannot grow in
acidic condition, so the pickled food is last longer.

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