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Investigate The Effect Of Temperature On Cell Membranes And Membrane Structure

2132 words - 9 pages

Investigate the Effect of Temperature on Cell Membranes and Membrane Structure

If you read a recipe for cooked beetroot it will usually recommend
that you don’t remove the outer skin of the beetroot and don’t cut off
al the stalk and root if you want to avoid getting lots of red dye in
the cooking water. Beetroot contains red pigments called betalains,
located within the cell vacuole. Normally the pigments can’t pass
through membranes but they leak out when the beetroot is cooked.

Aim – The aim of this practical is to use beetroot to examine the
effect of the temperature on cell membranes and relate the effects
observed to membrane structure. To function correctly a cell needs to
be able to control transport across the partially permeable cell
membrane.

Theory – To understand how the red pigment leaks out of the beetroot
it is essential that we understand the molecular Structure of a plasma
membrane.

A membrane is a phospholipid bilayer. This means that it has two
layers of molecules called phospholipids. Each of these phospholipid
molecules
has two parts:

• A 'head' that will mix with water but not with fat (i.e. it is
hydrophilic)

• Two 'tails' that will mix with fat but not with water (i.e. they are
hydrophobic).

In the phospholipid bilayer, the hydrophilic heads are always on the
outside of the membrane. The hydrophobic tails are always on the inside
of the membrane. Alone, this arrangement of phospholipids would form
a barrier to water and to water-soluble substances. However, other
molecules are scattered among the phospholipids. These include lipids
(including cholesterol in the membranes of animals), proteins and
polysaccharides. The proteins in membranes are of special interest to
us. This is because they have a number of important functions. Proteins
function as:

• Carriers for water-soluble molecules (such as glucose)

• Channels for ions (such as sodium and chloride ions)

• Pumps, which use energy to move water-soluble molecules and ions

• Receptors, which enable hormones and nerve transmitters to bind to
specific cells

• Recognition sites, which identify a cell as being of a particular
type

• Enzymes, which speed up chemical reactions at the edge of the
membrane

The ways that substances move across cell membrane are

1. Diffusion

2. Active transport

3. Facilitated diffusion

4. Osmosis

The one we are focusing on is diffusion. The rate of which diffusion
occurs while temperature is being changed.

The polar heads lie at both surfaces, the kind of three-dimensional
enclosed structure shown above can form. The real shape tends to be
globular (minimizing surface to volume ratio), and there are so many
more bipolar molecule pairs than shown here that the radius of
curvature lacks the kind of strain and distortion shown at the corners
of this drawing.

A membrane is a phospholipid bilayer studded with proteins,
polysaccharides and...

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