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CELL PHYSIOLOGY

Introduction

Definition :Is the study of the functions of cell structure


 Functions include: Respiration, Photosynthesis, protein
synthesis etc
 The processes require taking in of materials like , oxygen,
glucose and mineral salts and release of waste products like CO 2
Cont.

 This ensures their constant flow across the membrane

 Cell physiology involves movement of materials in and


out of the cell through the cell membrane
Membrane structure and properties

Definition
 Membrane is a surface structure which encloses the cell
and organelles

 Thy include : Cell membrane, nuclear membrane,


chloroplast, tonoplast, mitochondrial membrane etc

 They have a common basic structure which regulates the


flow of materials in and out of the organelle
Properties of cell membrane

1. Semi permeability

2. Sensitivity to changes in temperature and ph

3. Possession of electric charges


1. Semi permeability

 Its pores allow some molecules to pass through but keep


out others depending on their sizes

 Example: When a cell is surrounded by a dilute sugar


solution, water molecules enter the cell but the larger
sugar molecules don’t pass through

 The membrane in this way is able to select what enters


and leaves the cell, hence is semi permeable
2. Sensitivity to change in temperature and ph

 Has a layer of protein which is adversely affected by


temperature and ph changes

 Protein structure is altered by such changes

 This affects the movement of molecules through the


membrane
3. Possession of electric charges

 The membrane has both positive an negative charges

 They help the cell detect changes in the environment

 These affect the manner in which substances are moved in


and out of the cell
Physiological processes

 The function of the cell membrane of controlling the


movement of materials into and out of the cell is achieved
through physiological processes
Diffusion

Definition : Is the movement of particles of a substance


from a region of high concentration to that of low
concentration

 It occurs in liquids and gases

 Concentration / Diffusion gradient is the difference in


concentration of the particles between the two regions
Cont.

 Diffusion occurs along a concentration gradient

 If concentration gradient is maintained, movement of


particles continues until they are evenly distributed in the
available space
Examples of diffusion

1. The scent of a flower experienced by individuals is as a


result of diffusion of particles of the scent from the
source / flower

2. When a drop of ink is placed into a glass of water its


colour spreads in the water until all the water is equally
coloured by the ink particles

3. We are able to smell perfume that other people have


applied because it diffuses from the air through to our
organs of smell
Animated examples of diffusion
Role of diffusion in living organisms

1. Absorption of materials

2. Gaseous exchange

3. Transport of manufactured food from leaves to other


parts of the plant

4. Excretion of nitrogenous wastes


Demonstration of diffusion
1. Absorption of materials

In plants
• Salts dissolve in water to form ions
• Ions are small enough to pass through the pores of cell
membrane of root hair cells
• This occurs when the concentration of ions is higher in soil
than in root hair cells
Cont.

In animals
 Digested food e.g. glucose diffuse across the wall of the
ileum into blood for transport to other parts of the body

 The concentration of the foods is higher in the ileum


than in blood vessels
2. Gaseous exchange

In plants
 CO2 taken in and O2 given out during photosynthesis

 Some O2 used in respiration, the excess is given out


 At night, no photosynthesis, only respiration occurs
 Hence, plants take in O2 from respiration and give out
CO2 as a waste product
Cont.

 The gases diffuse in and out of the plant through stomata,


leaves and lenticels, along a concentration gradient

In animals
 They use several structures of gaseous exchange through
diffusion

 They include :Gills, Skin, lungs etc.


3. Transport of manufactured food from leaves to
other parts of the plant

 Facilitated through diffusion along a concentration


gradient between the leaves and other parts of the plant

 Concentration of manufactured food is higher in the leaf


than other parts of the plant
4. Excretion of nitrogenous wastes

 Cells and unicellular organisms get rid of waste


substances by diffusion

 They diffuse from their area of secretion (higher


concentration) to area of low concentration
Factors that affect diffusion

1. Temperature

2. Size of molecule

3. Concentration gradient

4. Thickness of membrane and tissue

5. Surface area to volume ratio


1.Temperature

 Increased temperature of particles increases kinetic energy

 Particles hence move faster

 The higher the temperature the faster the particles will


diffuse and vice versa
2. Size of molecule

 Small and light molecules diffuse faster than large and


heavy molecules
3. Concentration / Diffusion gradient

 Is the difference in concentration of particles between two


regions (high and low concentration)

 A greater diffusion gradient between two points increases the


rate of diffusion

 Increasing concentration of diffusing molecules increases


diffusion gradient with corresponding regions

 This increases diffusion rate


Cont.

 Decreasing concentration of diffusing molecules


decreases diffusion gradient with corresponding
regions

 This decreases diffusion rate


How diffusion gradient and surface area to volume ration
affects diffusion
4. Thickness of membrane and tissues

 The rate of diffusion depends on the distance that particles


have to travel in order to be evenly distributed within the
available space

 The thicker the membrane or tissue, the lower the rate of


diffusion and vice versa

 This is because the distance to be covered by diffusing


molecules is greater within a thick membrane but small in
a thin membrane
5. Surface area to volume ratio

 The rate of diffusion is affected by surface area to volume


ratio

 The higher the ratio the greater the rate of diffusion and
the lower the ratio the lower the rate of diffusion

 Small organisms have a larger surface area than large


organisms and therefore they expose a larger surface area
to the surrounding than big organisms
Cont .

 Small organisms therefore depend on diffusion as a means


of transport of food, respiratory gases and waste products

 Large organisms in addition to diffusion have transport


systems to increase the efficiency of transport

 This is because diffusion in them is slow as a result of


small surface area exposed to their surrounding ( small
surface area to volume ratio)
How temperature and size of particles affects
diffusion rate
Osmosis

Definition
 Is the movement of water molecules from a region of their
high concentration (Dilute solution) to a region of their
low concentration (Concentrated solution) across a semi
permeable membrane

 The semi permeable membrane is either living tissue (Cell


membrane) or non living ( Visking tube)
Cont.

 Osmosis is a special type of diffusion because it involves


the movement of solvent molecules from a region of their
high concentration to a region of their low concentration
Demonstration of osmosis process
1. Isotonic solution

 Isotonic : Term used to describe two solutions of equal


concentration separated by a semi permeable membrane

 Iso means equal

 In this solution, water movement out of a cell balances the


water movement into it
Demonstration of isotonic condition of the cell
and its surrounding
Hypotonic solution

 Is the dilute (Lowly concentrated) of two solutions of


unequal concentrations separated by a semi permeable
membrane

 It has more of the solvent molecules than of the solute


molecules
Demonstration of hypertonic cell in a hypotonic
surrounding
Hypertonic solution

 Is the highly concentrated of two solutions of unequal


concentration separated by a semi permeable membrane

 It has more of solute molecules than the solvent molecules


Demonstration of hypotonic in a hypertonic
surrounding
Demonstration of Isotonic, hypotonic and
hypertonic solutions
Osmotic potential

 Is the ability to take up water by osmosis

 Is the hidden pressure of a concentrated solution

 Can only be realized when the solution is separated from


distilled water by a semi permeable membrane
Cont.

 Is a measure of the pressure that a solution would develop


to withdraw water molecules from pure water, or a more
dilute solution when separated by a semi permeable
membrane

 Pure water has nothing dissolved in it hence its osmotic


potential is zero

 The more concentrated a solution is, the higher the


osmotic potential and vice versa
Osmotic pressure

 Is a force developed by a concentrated solution to draw


water through a semi permeable membrane from distilled
water

 Occurs when a concentrated solution is separated from


distilled water by a semi permeable membrane

 A solution with high solute concentration has a higher


osmotic pressure than one with low solute concentration
Quiz
Water relations in animals

 Can be described in situations where the cell is placed in


hypotonic or hypertonic solution
Animal cell in hypotonic solution

 If an animal cell is placed in a hypotonic solution or


water, there is a net flow of water into the cell by osmosis

 The cell membrane is flexible and expands with increased


pressure

 If water continues to enter the cell, it will continue to


swell and eventually burst
Behaviour of red blood cell in hypotonic,
hypertonic and isotonic solutions
Water relations in plants

Plant cell in hypertonic solution

 In this environment the cell sap is hypotonic to this solution

 Water is hence lost from the cytoplasm and vacuole to the


surrounding solution

 Turgor pressure in the cell begins to decrease

 If this continues the cell membrane and cytoplasm shrink away


from the cell wall and the vacuole in turn reduces in size
Cont .

 The cell shrinks / wrinkles, becomes less rigid and flabby

 In this condition it is said to be flaccid

 Loss of more water from the cell leads to a reduction in the


cell contents and the cell membrane pulls away from the
cell wall towards the centre

 This behaviour is termed as plasmolysis


Demonstration of plasmolysis

Plasmolysis : The process by which plant cells lose water,


shrink and become flaccid
Deplasmolysis :
 The process by which a plant cell regains its turgidity by
being placed in distilled water
Wilting

 Definition : Is the condition whereby the plant droops as


a result of reduction in cell turgidity after losing water to
the surrounding

 Wilting occurs when the rate of water loss to the


atmosphere is more than that of absorption from the soil

 Plants lose water to the atmosphere by transpiration and


evaporation
Cont.

 Water lost is replaced by drawing water from the soil by


the roots

 The condition is observed in plants during hot and dry


days

 Can be temporary or permanent


Temporary wilting

 Is the condition whereby the plant can recover from


wilting and regain the turgidity of the cell

 Recovery occurs at night because the stomata are closed


and therefore both evaporation and transpiration rates are
reduced
Permanent wilting

 Cannot be reversed

 Occurs where water supply from the soil is inadequate and


therefore the plant dies off
Demonstration of turgor pressure and
temporary wilting
Plasmolysis, flaccid cell, wilting
Role of osmosis in organisms

Plays important role in both plants and animals:


1. Absorption of water from soil by roots
2. Support
3. Opening and closing of stomata
4. Feeding in insectivorous plants
5. Osmoregulation
1. Absorption of water from soil by roots

 Root hair cells of plants absorb water from the soil by


osmosis

 The cell sap in root hair cells usually has a higher solute
concentration than water in the soil (Hypertonic)

 The root hair cells are therefore able to take up water from
the soil
2. Support

 When a plant takes in water by osmosis it becomes firm


and rigid and therefore gains support

 This type of support is important in seedlings, leaves and


herbaceous plants which are less woody
3. Opening and closing of stomata

 Guard cells synthesize glucose through the process of


photosynthesis during the day

 Accumulation of the sugar in guard cells increases their


osmotic pressure

 This enables them to draw water from the adjacent cell by


osmosis

 This makes them become turgid


Cont .

 As a result the stomata open hence allowing gaseous exchange to


occur

 Guard cells do not carry out photosynthesis at night

 As a result glucose level goes down

 Leads to reduced osmotic pressure

 They therefore lose turgidity and stomata closes


Demonstration of opening ad closing of stomata
4. Feeding in insectivorous plants

Insectivorous plants :Are plants that trap insects using


structures like leaves, which enclose the insects and digest
them to provide amino acids

 The plants have structures that suddenly change their


turgor pressure as a result of osmosis hence enabling
them to close and trap the insect for digestion
5. Osmoregulation

 Is the regulation of the osmotic pressure in living cells

 In the kidney tubules of animals water is withdrawn from


the tubules through the tubular walls into the surrounding
blood capillaries by osmosis
Factors affecting osmosis

1. Temperature

2. Concentration of solutions and concentration gradient

3. Type of solute
1.Temperature

 Water molecules move faster in high temperature than in


low temperature

 Temperature increase the kinetic energy of water


molecules hence they move faster

 Increase in temperature increases the rate of osmosis but


should not be so high as to destroy the semi permeable
membrane
2. Concentration of solutions and concentration
gradient

 Concentration gradient : is the difference in osmotic


pressure between two solutions

 The greater the difference is osmotic pressure


(Concentration gradient) the faster the rate of osmosis

 The lower the difference in osmotic pressure


(Concentration gradient ) the slower the rate o osmosis
Cont.

 The rate of osmosis depends on difference in


concentration between two solutions separated by a semi
permeable membrane
3. Type of solute

 Osmotically active substances: substances which when


dissolved in water will create an osmotic pressure e.g.
glucose, sugar, common salt

 Osmotically inactive substances : substances that do not


create an osmotic pressure when dissolved in water eg
starch and glycogen
Demonstration of osmotically active and
osmotically inactive solutions using visking tubing

 If a visking tubing containing glucose solution is


immersed in a beaker of water there will be net
movement of water molecules to the visking tubing
(Hypertonic solution)

 If a starch solution is put in the visking tubing and


immersed in distilled water, there is little or no movement
of water molecules towards the visking tubing
(osmotically inactive solution)
Active transport

Definition :Is the process by which molecules move across


the cell membrane against a concentration gradient with
utilization of energy

 Movement against a concentration gradient means that the


molecules move from an area of low concentration to an
area of high concentration
Cont.

 The process requires energy to effect the movement

 It also requires carriers to combine with the substance


being transported

 The cariers are found on the cell membrane

 After combining with the substance to be transported they


move from one side of the membrane to the other
Role of active transport in living organisms

1. Reabsorption of sugar and some salts in the kidney

2. Absorption of mineral salts from the soils in root hair cells

3. Absorption of digested food from the alimentary canal


into the blood stream

4. Excretion of waste products from body cells in kidney


Cont.

5. Accumulation of substances into the body to offset


osmotic imbalance in arid and saline environments

6.Maintenance of concentration of ions by nerve cells


Absorption of mineral slats from soil by root hair
cells
1. Reabsorption of sugars and some salts in the
kidney

 When urine is first formed in the kidney it contains useful


substances like glucose in addition to the waste substances

 These useful substances are reabsorbed back into the


blood by active transport

 This is because their concentration is higher in blood


capillaries than in the kidney tubules
2. Absorption of mineral salts from the soil in
root hair cells

 Root hair cells in plants absorb mineral ions from the


surrounding soil even when the concentration of these
minerals is already higher in the cells than in the soil
3. Absorption of digested food from the
alimentary canal into the blood stream

 The cells lining the human small intestines continue to


absorb food molecules by active transport even when the
concentration of the molecules is higher in the cells than
in the intestinal space
4. Excretion of waste products from body cells in
the kidneys

 The human kidney removes wastes from the blood

 They accumulate in a fluid called urine and are at a much


higher concentration than in the blood

 They are able to accumulate in the urine from blood due


to active transport
5. Accumulation of substances into the body to
offset osmotic imbalance in arid and saline
environment

 Plants growing in saline environments accumulate higher


concentration of salts than the surrounding so as to offset
too much loss of water to the surrounding by osmosis
6. Maintenance of concentration of ions by nerve
cells

 Nerve cells need sodium ions and potassium ions in order to


function

 The concentration of sodium ions outside a nerve cell is higher


than the concentration on the inside

 The concentration of potassium ions is lower on the outside than


on the inside

 The nerve cells maintain these concentrations in this way by


active transport
Factors affecting active transport

 Any factor that affects energy production influences the


rate of active transport. Such factors include:
1. Temperature

2. Oxygen concentration

3. Glucose concentration

4. Change in pH

5. Enzyme inhibitors
1. Temperature

 Active transport utilizes energy which is derived from


chemical reactions

 The chemical reactions are influenced by temperature

 An increase in temperature therefore speeds up the rate


of active transport by increasing energy production

 A decrease slows down the rate of active transport by


decreasing energy production
Cont.

 However, there is a certain range of high temperature which can


destroy (Denature) the protein carriers in the cell membrane

 This stops the process of active transport

 Active transport therefore works best under normal temperature


called optimal temperature

 This is the temperature at which active transport is at its highest


rate
2. pH

 Abnormal changes in pH in the environment of the cell


can alter the structure of the protein carriers

 This affects their ability to transfer molecules across the


cell membrane

 This lowers the rate of active transport


3. Glucose concentration

 The amount of energy produced by a cell depends on the


amount of glucose available

 When the concentration of glucose is high, the cells


produce more energy and vice versa

 Active transport being an energy driven process is


therefore affected by the amount of glucose available
Cont.

 High glucose concentration therefore increases the rate of


active transport

 Low glucose concentration decreases the rate of active


transport
4. Concentration of oxygen

 Oxygen is a requirement in the respiration process which


yields energy to the cell

 At higher oxygen concentration, the cell produces more


energy than at lower oxygen concentration

 Active transport is an energy driven process therefore high


oxygen concentration will lead to increased rate of active
transport due to increased energy production and vice
versa
5. Enzyme inhibitors

 Enzyme inhibitors are chemical substances which


inactivate an enzyme or poisons it

 Enzymes are involved in the release of energy during


respiration

 If these enzymes are affected by inhibitors, there will be


lack of energy and this will prevent active transport from
taking place since it is energy driven