Beetroot cell membrane permeability experiment

Osmosis, Cell membrane, Semipermeable membrane

Practical Assessment



Beetroot cells contain a red pigment, which is stored in the cell vacuole and a vacuole membrane to prevent this leaking out of the cell surrounds it. The outer of the cell is also surrounded by a membrane, which again helps contain the pigment inside the cell. In this experiment I aim to find out the relationship between the leakage of red pigment from a beetroot cell and the surface area. To do this successfully I will need to alter the surface area of the beetroot cells accurately and then measure if any and how much dye is let out. I can hopefully then look at my results and then find a relationship between the two factors and be able to explain exactly why any changes took place.


For this experiment I would expect the leakage of dye to increase as the surface area increases and this is based on the knowledge of the formation of membranes. Membranes are made of two main types of chemical, lipids and proteins. The main type of membrane is known as a phospholipid membrane. The purpose of partially permeable membranes is to selectively allow the passage of materials in and out of the cell. Substances pass through via diffusion, osmosis or active transport.

As surface area increases the rate of reaction which in turn would cause an increase in the rate of diffusion causing more dye to be given out. This is due to the fact that more particles of membrane in contact with the substance allowing more passage out of the cell and an increased rate of this.

I would expect the rate to level off after a certain point and this would be the top amount of dye leakage that could be achieved by any change to surface area. The graph of the results would look like this: -


To carry out this experiment I could perform it in several different manners, however all will have to follow out the first basic step: -

·Cut out several discs of beetroot of varying surface area. Treat all discs by washing with...
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