The Effects of Alcohol on the Cell Membrance

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Biology Lab T 10:50
The Effects of Alcohol on the Cell Membrane
To understand the effects of alcohol on cell membranes can help one understand more about the effects of alcohol on human cells that are contained in the digestive system and the blood stream. It is important to study this effect due to the fact that it can lead to the understanding of the dangers of alcohol, over consumption, and even possibly alcohol poisoning. Performing this lab enables the students to have a firsthand experience in seeing how alcohol can enter each cell and how it weakens the cell membrane. Cell membranes are a basic essential part to all living this. Because of the phospholipid bilayer surrounding the cell, certain molecules can be kept out and good kept in. Beets were used in the experiment for many reasons. Since the beet has such a prominent colored pigment called betacyanin, it was easy to visually see how the pigment comes out when in the presence of an alcohol.

For this particular lab, one might have a researchable question as so: "Does ethanol effect cell membranes?" To this question many hypotheses were formed. For this personal experiment, if the concentration of ethanol is increased, then it is expected that the cell membrane of the beet root will be damaged, resulting in the release of more betacyanin. To test this, a beet root was cut into identical portions to then be soaked in various ethanol solutions for five minutes each. After the incubation, the absorbance was then measured through the use of a spectrophotometer. Three different replicates were performed. Using the absorbance, the concentration of betacyanin was then calculated through the use on Lambert-Beers Law.

The concentration of betacyanin increases with an increase of ethanol concentration. In Figure 1, it is apparent that there is a sharp increase in the average concentration of betacyanin between a concentration of 20% ethanol and 40% ethanol. Though it is a...
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