What is OSMOREGULATION? What does OSMOREGULATION mean? OSMOREGULATION meaning - OSMOREGULATION definition - OSMOREGULATION explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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Osmoregulation is the active regulation of the osmotic pressure of an organism's body fluids to maintain the homeostasis of the organism's water content; that is, it maintains the fluid balance and the concentration of electrolytes (salts in solution) to keep the fluids from becoming too diluted or too concentrated. Osmotic pressure is a measure of the tendency of water to move into one solution from another by osmosis. The higher the osmotic pressure of a solution, the more water tends to move into it. Pressure must be exerted on the hypertonic side of a selectively permeable membrane to prevent diffusion of water by osmosis from the side containing pure water.
Organisms in aquatic and terrestrial environments must maintain the right concentration of solutes and amount of water in their body fluids; this involves excretion (getting rid of metabolic nitrogenous wastes and other substances such as hormones that would be toxic if allowed to accumulate in the blood) through organs such as the skin and the kidneys.
Two major types of osmoregulation are osmoconformers and osmoregulators. Osmoconformers match their body osmolarity to their environment actively or passively. Most marine invertebrates are osmoconformers, although their ionic composition may be different from that of seawater.
Osmoregulators tightly regulate their body osmolarity, maintaining constant internal conditions. They are more common in the animal kingdom. Osmoregulators actively control salt concentrations despite the salt concentrations in the environment. An example is freshwater fish. The gills actively uptake salt from the environment by the use of mitochondria-rich cells. Water will diffuse into the fish, so it excretes a very hypotonic (dilute) urine to expel all the excess water. A marine fish has an internal osmotic concentration lower than that of the surrounding seawater, so it tends to lose water and gain salt. It actively excretes salt out from the gills. Most fish are stenohaline, which means they are restricted to either salt or fresh water and cannot survive in water with a different salt concentration than they are adapted to. However, some fish show a tremendous ability to effectively osmoregulate across a broad range of salinities; fish with this ability are known as euryhaline species, e.g., Flounder. Flounder have been observed to inhabit two utterly disparate environments—marine and fresh water—and it is inherent to adapt to both by bringing in behavioral and physiological modifications.
Some marine fish, like sharks, have adopted a different, efficient mechanism to conserve water, i.e., osmoregulation. They retain urea in their blood in relatively higher concentration. Urea damages living tissues so, to cope with this problem, some fish retain trimethylamine oxide. This provides a better solution to urea's toxicity. Sharks, having slightly higher solute concentration (i.e., above 1000 mOsm which is sea solute concentration), do not drink water like fresh water fish.
While there are no specific osmoregulatory organs in higher plants, the stomata are important in regulating water loss through evapotranspiration, and on the cellular level the vacuole is crucial in regulating the concentration of solutes in the cytoplasm. Strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures all increase evapotranspiration from leaves. Abscisic acid is an important hormone in helping plants to conserve water—it causes stomata to close and stimulates root growth so that more water can be absorbed.
Plants share with animals the problems of obtaining water but, unlike in animals, the loss of water in plants is crucial to create a driving force to move nutrients from the soil to tissues. Certain plants have evolved methods of water conservation.
Xerophytes are plants that can survive in dry habitats, such as deserts, and are able to withstand prolonged periods of water shortage. Succulent plants such as the cacti store water in the vacuoles of large parenchyma tissues. Other plants have leaf modifications to reduce water loss, such as needle-shaped leaves, sunken stomata, and thick, waxy cuticles as in the pine. The sand-dune marram grass has rolled leaves with stomata on the inner surface.....