When a cell is placed in a hypertonic solution, the solution has a higher solute concentration than the cell’s cytoplasm. This means that there are more solute particles (ions and molecules) in the solution than there are inside the cell. As a result, water molecules will move from the cell’s cytoplasm to the solution in an attempt to equalize the solute concentration. This process is called osmosis.
The movement of water out of the cell can have several effects, depending on the type of cell.
Plant cells have a rigid cell wall that surrounds the plasma membrane. When a plant cell is placed in a hypertonic solution, the cytoplasm will shrink away from the cell wall, a process called plasmolysis. This can damage the cell membrane and eventually lead to cell death.
Animal cells do not have a rigid cell wall, so they can change their shape in response to osmosis. When an animal cell is placed in a hypertonic solution, the cytoplasm will shrink, and the cell will become crenated, which means that it will have folds or ridges in its membrane. This can also damage the cell membrane and lead to cell death.
The severity of the effects of hypertonicity depends on the size of the solute particles in the solution. Larger solute particles tend to move more slowly across cell membranes, so they are less likely to cause damage to cells. This is why cells are usually more tolerant of solutions that contain large solute particles, such as proteins and polysaccharides.
Here is a table summarizing the effects of hypertonicity on different types of cells:
|Effect of hypertonicity
|Plasmolysis, which can damage the cell membrane and eventually lead to cell death
|Crenation, which can also damage the cell membrane and lead to cell death