In order to survive, all organisms need to move molecules in and out of their cells. Molecules such as gases (e.g., O2, CO2), water, food, and wastes pass across the cell membrane. There are two ways that the molecules move through the membrane: passive transport and active transport. While active transport requires that the cell uses chemical energy to move substances through the cell membrane, passive transport does not require such energy expenditures. Passive transport occurs spontaneously, using heat energy from the cell’s environment.
Diffusion is the movement of molecules by passive transport from a region in which they are highly concentrated to a region in which they are less concentrated. Diffusion continues until the molecules are randomly distributed throughout the system. Osmosis, the movement of water across a membrane, is a special case of diffusion. Water molecules are small and can easily pass through the membrane. Other molecules, such as proteins, DNA, RNA, and sugars are too large to diffuse through the cell membrane. The membrane is said to be semipermeable, since it allows some molecules to diffuse though but not others.
In this experiment, you will
- Use a Gas Pressure Sensor to investigate the relationship
between water movement and solute concentration.
- Determine the water potential of potato cells.