Edexcel A (SNAB) A Level Biology:复习笔记2.1.8 Osmosis


  • All cells are surrounded by a cell surface membrane which is partially permeable
  • Water can move in and out of cells across the cell surface membrane by a process called osmosis
    • Osmosis is the net movement of water molecules from a region of lower solute concentration to a region of higher solute concentration through a partially permeable membrane
      • Water molecules move from a dilute solution to a concentrated solution
  • In doing this, water is moving down its concentration gradient, so osmosis is a specialised form of diffusion
    • Water molecules will move from an area of more free water molecules to an area of fewer free water molecules
      • Water molecules are considered 'free' when they are not surrounding substances in a solution; when a substance dissolves it becomes surrounded by water molecules; such water molecules are no longer free and cannot move through a membrane readily
  • Cell membranes are partially permeable, allowing small molecules like water through but not larger molecules such as solutes
    • Although water molecules are polar they can still pass through the bilayer because of their small size.

Osmosis is the movement of water molecules from a dilute to a concentrated solution through a partially permeable membrane

Osmosis is the movement of water molecules down their concentration gradient. Note that 'water potential' is a term used to describe the number of free water molecules present.

  • Osmosis is important because it constantly affects the cells of living organisms
    • Cell cytoplasm consists of water and dissolved substances
    • Cells lose or take on water depending on the number of free water molecules in their surroundings in comparison to their cytoplasm
  • When cells are placed in pure water, which has the highest possible number of free water molecules, water moves into the cells by osmosis and the cells swell
    • In animal cells this could lead to cell bursting
    • In plant cells the cell wall prevents bursting
  • When cells are placed into a solution that has a smaller number of free water molecules than their cytoplasm, e.g. a concentrated glucose solution, water moves out of the cells by osmosis and the cells shrink
    • In animal cells the entire cell shrivels
    • In plant cells the vacuole and cytoplasm shrink but the cell wall maintains the overall shape of the cell