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Compare and Contrast Active Transport with Diffusion and Osmosis

In this worksheet, students will compare and contrast active transport with diffusion and osmosis.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Active transport is the movement of substances from an area of low concentration to a higher concentration, either into or out of cells.

 

Image of carrier proteins and active transport

 

 

During active transport, carriers in the cell membrane ‘pick up’ particles and move them against the concentration gradient.

As the name suggests, active transport requires energy from the cell, which is made available by respiration.

 

Image showing active transport

 

In the picture above, there are three particles outside the cell and five particles inside the cell. The three particles will be carried through to the inside of the cell by the carrier protein, using energy to do so.

 

 

Uses of Active Transport

 

 Image of villi in intestine

 

During digestion, the villi in the small intestine absorb the nutrients from our digested food. Over time, the concentration of nutrients in the villi becomes equal to the concentration in the gut. The cells need these nutrients, so active transport is used to continue the transporting of the small amounts of remaining nutrients. 

 

Image of root hair cell

 

Plants absorb minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium from the soil for healthy growth. Plants need a variety of minerals because they are used by the plant in different ways. Nitrogen, in the form of nitrates, is used to make proteins, while phosphorus and potassium are needed for respiration.  Magnesium is needed to make chlorophyll,  which plants need in order to photosynthesise.

When the concentration of these minerals in the soil is lower than inside the plant, active transport is used to absorb the minerals against the concentration gradient. If plants used diffusion instead of active transport, the plants would be drained of all their minerals because they would travel down the concentration gradient - the plant would lose all its nutrients to the soil.

Plants are adapted for absorbing minerals by having root hair cells that have a large surface area, as well as containing lots of mitochondria. The mitochondria is where energy is released during respiration. The energy is used to power active transport. 

 

 

Image of plant in soil

 

 

Some plants are unable to grow due to waterlogged soil. Waterlogged soil is soil that's received a lot of water, which has caused the soil to become saturated. Nitrates are soluble, meaning that they dissolve in the water. These nitrates will often get washed away, leaving a low concentration in the soil. The plant will use active transport to absorb the nitrates. The problem with this, though, is that waterlogged soil doesn't have much oxygen (the water almost takes over the place and space of oxygen). The oxygen is needed for respiration. When plants respire, energy is released. This energy is needed for active transport. 

 

In the following activity, you will compare and contrast the process of active transport with diffusion and osmosis.

The table below shows two images, image A and image B, of particles moving through a membrane.

 

Complete the chart below to show which processes are taking place in each of the images.

 

 A

 

Image of glucose into cell via active transport

B Image of particles moving via osmosis
 OsmosisDiffusionActive Transport
A
B

Plants need important substances for different processes vital for life. Plant cells get these through diffusion, osmosis and active transport.

 

Match up the sentences which are describing the three processes.

Column A

Column B

Active Transport
The diffusion of water molecules from a dilute sol...
Diffusion
The movement of molecules from an area of high con...
Osmosis
The movement of molecules against a concentration ...

What do active transport, diffusion and osmosis all have in common?

They all need energy

They all transport water

They all have carrier proteins

They are all about the movement of particles

The diagram below shows molecules of nitrates in the soil. There are two molecules of nitrates in the soil and four molecules of nitrates in the root hair cell of a plant.

 

Why is it important that the nitrates move by active transport and not diffusion?

 

Image of nitrates taken up by active transport

Diffusion would take longer to transport the nitrates

Diffusion would mean the plant would lose nitrates to the soil

Diffusion is passive

Plant and animal cells use active transport, diffusion and osmosis to transport important nutrients into or out of their cells.

 

 Compare and contrast these three important processes by filling in the blanks below. 

Diffusion would take longer to transport the nitrates

Diffusion would mean the plant would lose nitrates to the soil

Diffusion is passive

The table below shows three images, image A, B and C.

 

Which of the images show particles moving down a concentration gradient? 

 

 A

 

Image of glucose into cell via active transport

B Image of particles moving via osmosis
C Image of particles moving by diffusion
A

B

C

A and C

What are some of the differences between active transport and osmosis? 

 

Image of carrier proteins and active transport     Image of particles moving via osmosis

Plants growing in waterlogged soils are more likely to show signs of nitrogen deficiency.

 

Explain why. 

Waterlogged soils change nitrogen compounds so they can't be used by the plant

Waterlogged soils will dissolve nitrogen compounds which get washed away

Waterlogged soils aren't able to respire as well since there is less oxygen present

Waterlogged soils will photosynthesise more

Waterlogged soil is soil that's received a lot of water, which has caused the soil to become saturated.  Some plants can't grow very well in waterlogged soil. Waterlogged soil often lacks oxygen. 

 

Explain why oxygen is needed in the soil.

Oxygen is needed for respiration

Oxygen is needed for photosynthesis

Oxygen is needed for metabolism

 

Waterlogged soil is soil that's received a lot of water, which has caused the soil to become saturated.

 

 Match up the parts of the sentences below to explain why some plants can't grow very well in waterlogged soil.  

Column A

Column B

Nitrates are soluble
This is needed for active transport
Nitrates will often get washed away
Leaving a low concentration in the soil
Waterlogged ground doesn't contain much oxygen
This is needed for respiration
Respiration provides the plant with energy
They dissolve in the water on the saturated ground
Active transport is essential for moving minerals ...
These are needed for growth
  • Question 1

The table below shows two images, image A and image B, of particles moving through a membrane.

 

Complete the chart below to show which processes are taking place in each of the images.

 

 A

 

Image of glucose into cell via active transport

B Image of particles moving via osmosis
CORRECT ANSWER
 OsmosisDiffusionActive Transport
A
B
EDDIE SAYS
How was this for a first question? Image A shows active transport taking place - the biggest clue to this is the presence of a carrier protein, but the direction of the arrows should confirm this. The particles are moving from an area of low concentration to an area of higher concentration. Image B has a semipermeable membrane, which suggests this image is showing osmosis.
  • Question 2

Plants need important substances for different processes vital for life. Plant cells get these through diffusion, osmosis and active transport.

 

Match up the sentences which are describing the three processes.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Active Transport
The movement of molecules against...
Diffusion
The movement of molecules from an...
Osmosis
The diffusion of water molecules ...
EDDIE SAYS
Did you feel confident with this one? If not, it might be a good idea to try some of the activities on osmosis and diffusion to help you get this sorted in your mind. The vital thing about osmosis is that it is all about the movement of water molecules. With osmosis and diffusion, particles move from a higher concentration to a lower concentration. With active transport, it's the opposite - particles move from a lower concentration to a higher concentration.
  • Question 3

What do active transport, diffusion and osmosis all have in common?

CORRECT ANSWER
They are all about the movement of particles
EDDIE SAYS
There are many differences between these three processes, but they share one big similarity. Active transport, diffusion and osmosis are all processes that allow particles to be moved into or out of cells as needed.
  • Question 4

The diagram below shows molecules of nitrates in the soil. There are two molecules of nitrates in the soil and four molecules of nitrates in the root hair cell of a plant.

 

Why is it important that the nitrates move by active transport and not diffusion?

 

Image of nitrates taken up by active transport

CORRECT ANSWER
Diffusion would mean the plant would lose nitrates to the soil
EDDIE SAYS
You need to understand the difference between these two processes to be able to answer this question. Remember that active transport is the movement of particles from low to high concentrations. Diffusion is the opposite, so particles move from high to low concentrations. If this happened here, the plant would become drained of all nutrients.
  • Question 5

Plant and animal cells use active transport, diffusion and osmosis to transport important nutrients into or out of their cells.

 

 Compare and contrast these three important processes by filling in the blanks below. 

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Are you feeling more confident of knowing the difference between these three important processes now? The above activity would make great notes for revision, especially for the extended question and answer section in your exams. Well done for completing this challenging activity.
  • Question 6

The table below shows three images, image A, B and C.

 

Which of the images show particles moving down a concentration gradient? 

 

 A

 

Image of glucose into cell via active transport

B Image of particles moving via osmosis
C Image of particles moving by diffusion
CORRECT ANSWER
B
C
EDDIE SAYS
When particles move down a concentration gradient, it means they are moving without the use of energy, from a high concentration to a low concentration. This happens in diffusion and osmosis but not in active transport. Active transport needs energy to move particles from a low to a high concentration - against the concentration gradient.
  • Question 7

What are some of the differences between active transport and osmosis? 

 

Image of carrier proteins and active transport     Image of particles moving via osmosis

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you hesitate with the option on concentration gradients? It is important to understand that with osmosis and diffusion, particles move down the concentration gradient - that is from high to low. Active transport goes against the concentration gradient by doing the opposite - from low to high. Osmosis and active transport are almost opposite processes in that one is passive (osmosis) and the other needs energy (active transport). Remembering one process will hopefully help you to remember the other.
  • Question 8

Plants growing in waterlogged soils are more likely to show signs of nitrogen deficiency.

 

Explain why. 

CORRECT ANSWER
Waterlogged soils will dissolve nitrogen compounds which get washed away
Waterlogged soils aren't able to respire as well since there is less oxygen present
EDDIE SAYS
There were two options to tick here. Nitrates are soluble meaning they'll dissolve in water. They're more likely to get washed away, so plants won't be able to actively transport them. Also, the concentration of oxygen in waterlogged soil is often low. This is a problem because oxygen is needed for the process of respiration, which provides the energy that is needed for active transport to take place.
  • Question 9

Waterlogged soil is soil that's received a lot of water, which has caused the soil to become saturated.  Some plants can't grow very well in waterlogged soil. Waterlogged soil often lacks oxygen. 

 

Explain why oxygen is needed in the soil.

CORRECT ANSWER
Oxygen is needed for respiration
EDDIE SAYS
What can you remember about respiration? Plants need oxygen to respire, which will provide them with the energy needed to power active transport.
  • Question 10

 

Waterlogged soil is soil that's received a lot of water, which has caused the soil to become saturated.

 

 Match up the parts of the sentences below to explain why some plants can't grow very well in waterlogged soil.  

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Nitrates are soluble
They dissolve in the water on the...
Nitrates will often get washed aw...
Leaving a low concentration in th...
Waterlogged ground doesn't contai...
This is needed for respiration
Respiration provides the plant wi...
This is needed for active transpo...
Active transport is essential for...
These are needed for growth
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to match them all up correctly? There were two possible options for the statement about leaving a low concentration - it could have been nitrates or oxygen. However, the third option of being needed for respiration had to go with oxygen, so this meant the correct one for the low concentration levels had to be the option about nitrates being washed away. The topic of waterlogged soils comes up quite frequently in exams, so this is a good question for testing your knowledge.
---- OR ----

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