<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain why and how passive transport occurs
  • Understand the processes of osmosis and diffusion
  • Define tonicity and describe its relevance to passive transport

Plasma membranes must allow certain substances to enter and leave a cell, and prevent some harmful materials from entering and some essential materials from leaving. In other words, plasma membranes are selectively permeable    —they allow some substances to pass through, but not others. If they were to lose this selectivity, the cell would no longer be able to sustain itself, and it would be destroyed. Some cells require larger amounts of specific substances than do other cells; they must have a way of obtaining these materials from extracellular fluids. This may happen passively, as certain materials move back and forth, or the cell may have special mechanisms that facilitate transport. Some materials are so important to a cell that it spends some of its energy, hydrolyzing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), to obtain these materials. Red blood cells use some of their energy doing just that. All cells spend the majority of their energy to maintain an imbalance of sodium and potassium ions between the interior and exterior of the cell.

The most direct forms of membrane transport are passive. Passive transport is a naturally occurring phenomenon and does not require the cell to exert any of its energy to accomplish the movement. In passive transport, substances move from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. A physical space in which there is a range of concentrations of a single substance is said to have a concentration gradient    .

Selective permeability

Plasma membranes are asymmetric: the interior of the membrane is not identical to the exterior of the membrane. In fact, there is a considerable difference between the array of phospholipids and proteins between the two leaflets that form a membrane. On the interior of the membrane, some proteins serve to anchor the membrane to fibers of the cytoskeleton. There are peripheral proteins on the exterior of the membrane that bind elements of the extracellular matrix. Carbohydrates, attached to lipids or proteins, are also found on the exterior surface of the plasma membrane. These carbohydrate complexes help the cell bind substances that the cell needs in the extracellular fluid. This adds considerably to the selective nature of plasma membranes ( [link] ).

This illustration shows that the inside and outside of a plasma membrane are different.
The exterior surface of the plasma membrane is not identical to the interior surface of the same membrane.

Recall that plasma membranes are amphiphilic: They have hydrophilic and hydrophobic regions. This characteristic helps the movement of some materials through the membrane and hinders the movement of others. Lipid-soluble material with a low molecular weight can easily slip through the hydrophobic lipid core of the membrane. Substances such as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K readily pass through the plasma membranes in the digestive tract and other tissues. Fat-soluble drugs and hormones also gain easy entry into cells and are readily transported into the body’s tissues and organs. Molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide have no charge and so pass through membranes by simple diffusion.

Questions & Answers

what is nutrients
Patrick Reply
what are the types of skeleton
Tanyi Reply
endo skeleton and exo skeleton
Faith
or types of skeletons There is exo skeleton found in class insecta Exo skeleton found in phylum chordata and lastly hydrostatic skeleton found mainly in earth worms
Daniel
and hydrostatic skeleton
Godbless
what is life?
Jerson Reply
life is when any living thing breath or respirate.
Lucky
I want to join
Patrick
me too
Favour
me two
Monday
me too
Bengazy
me too
Maggie
I here
Yahaya
Does anybody knows another biology app that brings good understand
Lucky
give an example of a phylum where all members have open circulatory
Omoro Reply
anthropoda
Daniel
phylum Anthropoda
Daniel
how do u change the unit of temperature from degree celsius to degree Fahrenheit
Maggie
what are beneficial effects in industrial
Nnamani Reply
create employment
ibrahim
provide food
ibrahim
pollution
ibrahim
dirty the environment
ibrahim
pollution and lack of knowledge about how to manage waste
Alex
what is gametophyte
Ibrahim Reply
what is biology
Basiru Reply
Biology deals with the study of living organisms and their interactions with each other and the environment.
Quartey
biology simply means the study of living and non-livingthings.
Shamstar
what is the meaning of ubiquitous
Hamziyatu Reply
Under what topic is this question
fred
three branches of biology
Alexander Reply
what is the cell
Olajide Reply
what is life
Olajide
cell is the functional and structural unit of life
Shweta
life is a problem solving entity
Atanga
what is the characteristics of plant cell
Quaku
Describe the process that results in the formation of a tetrad.
Michael Reply
what is biology
Ndukwe Reply
biology is the study of life
Oghenemine
what is biology
Jimmy Reply
the study of life
Hamziyatu
what is the Biosphere?
Kabel Reply
I want to know what classifications of living organisms and their names
Quaku
are classified into plants and animals eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell.
Lokwe
what is biology?
Turabi Reply
what is the meaning of Biologists
Turabi
what is the meaning of Biologists
Turabi
what is the meaning of Biologists
Turabi
are those who are specialized in Biology
Nicode
Is the study of living things,
Kabel
what is the ecosystem?
Kabel
bio mean life logus means study so the study of living things or living organisms is called biology
Faraq
Ecosystem consists of the living organisms in a particular area together with the abiotic factors.
Quartey

Get the best Biology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask