In living organisms, nutrients derived from food reach various organs by way of osmosis, carried by fluids. It’s the process of flow of liquid through a semi-permeable membrane.
Solids and liquids share a simple, yet complex relationship. Simple, because often, solids yield to the solvent power of liquids and both get bound to each other in the form of a solution. Complex, because a lot of times, liquids find it challenging to breach the surface of solids and move ahead. The phenomenon by which a liquid moves towards its destination by breaching a partially permeable or semi-solid surface without the use of any force is known as Osmosis.
In living organisms, osmosis mostly takes place in the form of a nutrient-laden liquid permeating the cell membrane to move towards the inner cellular anatomy where the solute concentration is higher owing to the presence of various organelles that carry out a number of essential functions necessary for the sustenance of life. By enabling nutrients to reach the cellular interiors and aiding in their absorption, the process of osmosis makes sure that cells get repaired and stay healthy.
Significance of Osmosis in Living Organisms
Besides carrying nutrient-rich liquid across cell membranes, a very important function of osmosis is to maintain an ideal concentration of solute within the cell. Osmosis balances the pressure and concentration of solution on both sides of a semi-permeable membrane by making water molecules move from the high-concentration side to the low concentration side by passing through the wall of semi-absorbent material that lies between both sides. The following points enumerate the comprehensive role osmosis plays in the biology of living organisms:-
– Through the process of osmosis, nutrients get transported to cells and waste materials get moved out of them.
– The pressure within and outside each cell is maintained by osmosis as this process ensures a balance of fluid volume on both sides of the cell wall. If fluid volume within a cell is more than the fluid volume outside it, such pressure could lead the cell to become turgid and explode. On the contrary, if fluid volume outside the cell is more than the fluid volume within, such pressure could lead the cell to cave in. Both cases would be detrimental to normal and healthy cellular function.
– It is via osmosis only that roots of plants are able to absorb moisture from the soil and transport it upwards, towards the leaves where nutrition is created via photosynthesis. Plants wouldn’t exist without osmosis and without plants, no other life could exist as they are a vital link of the entire food chain of the planet.
– Without osmosis, it would be impossible for our bodies to separate and expel toxic wastes and keep the bloodstream free from impurities. The process of blood purification is carried out by the kidneys which isolates the impurities in the form of urine, which is, then, carried to the bladder from where they are, eventually, sent ahead for evacuation from the body.
The role of osmosis is twofold – it helps maintain a stable internal environment in a living organism by keeping the pressure of the inter and intra-cellular fluids balanced, and it allows the absorption of nutrients and expulsion of waste from various bodily organs on the cellular level.
These are two of the most essential functions that a living organism cannot do without, as a steady internal pressure is essential to counter the atmospheric pressure from the outside, and the transfer of nutrients and cellular waste by using the least number of energy units (the process of osmosis does not involve the exertion of any kind of force) ensures that any energy produced or processed by the body is directed towards the performance of more complex biological functions.