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the principles of diffusion and osmosis

he chloroplast contains pigments and is responsible for creating food through photosynthesis.

Eukaryotic cells contain an organelle called the mitochondria, which is the site of en- ergy production. This structure is often referred to as the powerhouse of the cell. Cel- lular energy is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The ability of a cell to absorb water and nutrients is an important aspect of its sur- vival. Diffusion is the movement of solutes (dissolved molecules) in a solution or ma- trix from an area of high concentration to an area of lower concentration. Molecules move down the concentration gradient: from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. The greater the concentration differential, the faster the rate of diffusion. The size, shape, and composition of the solute also affect the ability of a substance to diffuse. These factors become increasingly important when considering the diffusion of substances across the cell membrane. Diffusion, being a passive process, is quite efficient across small distances. However, as distances become longer, the efficiency of diffusion decreases.

Osmosis is the movement of water across a selectively permeable membrane from an area of lower concentration (of solute) to an area of higher concentration (of solute). Remember that everything in the universe is constantly moving toward a state of equilibrium. Living cells contain a small amount of salt. For example, human cells contain 0.85% NaCl. If the solution outside the cell has this same concentration, the solution is said to be isotonic. Because there is no net difference in solutes between the inside and outside of the cell, there is no net movement of water. Higher concen- trations of solutes outside of the cell are termed hypertonic, while lower concentra- tions are termed hypotonic.

An important concept that affects how well a cell can absorb and pass material through the membrane is the surface-to-volume ratio. This formula for calculating this ratio is:

Surface area ÷ Volume

Because cells constantly interact with their external environments to obtain nutrients and remove wastes, it is critical that they maintain a proper surface-to-volume ratio.

As objects of the same shape increase in size, the surface-to-volume ratio decreases.