The Effects of Varying, Extreme Temperatures and Varying Organic Solvents on a Beet Root Cell Membrane

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One of the main structures of a biotic cell is a cell membrane which is produced from a phospholipid (Reece et al., 2011). When a huge number of phospholipids, each comprising a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobic tail, gather, they rearrange into what is known as a Fluid Mosaic plasma membrane (Reece et al., 2011). This membrane is always in motion and the mosaic created is due to the proteins within the membrane (Reece et al., 2011). Additionally, the membrane is also selectively permeable which means that not every substance moves across the membrane (Reece et al., 2011). Factors such as the polarity of a molecule and the relative size of the molecule greatly affect the rate of dispersion through the plasma membrane (Bio. Sciences…show more content…
The other variable which we chose to test on the beet cells was the effect of extreme temperatures (varying from -20º C to 70º C) on the cell membrane (Bio. Sciences Dept., 2013). Studies have shown that the development of a membrane is greatly altered when exposed to temperatures below zero, which soon leads to cell lysis (Willing and Leopold; 1982). Cell lysis would be an explanation for the highest amount of betacyanin leakage, when, the beet root was submerged in a -20º C environment, when compared to the other higher temperatures which did not show as much leakage (Bio. Sciences Dept., 2013).
The importance of this study is that it can help us with certain bacterial strains which tend to live on under high concentrations of organic solvents such as phenol (Isken; 1998). Research in this field revealed that high buildup of such organic solvents are not only damaging by themselves, but found that bacteria such as E. coli, which have entered near the cell membrane, undergo ATP synthesis (use phenol to metabolize) and continue to survive longer than normal (Isken; 1998). We can now use this information to help us avoid bacterial infections by eliminating the thriving environment for the bacteria, which is a factor of great importance. Although the above experiments show two different ways a cell membrane may rupture, we do not know for sure that the OD measurements are the best way to interpret membrane damage because we measured
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