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3.3 Exchange of substances

  • The internal environment of a cell or organism is different from its external environment. The exchange of substances between the internal and external environments takes place at exchange surfaces. To truly enter or leave an organism, most substances must cross cell plasma membranes.
  • In large multicellular organisms, the immediate environment of cells is some form of tissue fluid. Most cells are too far away from exchange surfaces, and from each other, for simple diffusion alone to maintain the composition of tissue fluid within a suitable metabolic range. In large organisms, exchange surfaces are associated with mass transport systems that carry substances between the exchange surfaces and the rest of the body and between parts of the body. Mass transport maintains the final diffusion gradients that bring substances to and from the cell membranes of individual cells. It also helps to maintain the relatively stable environment that is tissue fluid.

Source: AQA Spec

Included in this download

3.3.1Surface area to volume ratio
3.3.2Gas exchange
3.3.3Digestion and absorption
3.3.4Mass transport