Human Biology. Made Simple by Robert Barrass (Auth.)

By Robert Barrass (Auth.)

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This exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the cell and its environment, is called gaseous exchange. The plasmalemma, through which this exchange takes place, is called the respiratory surface. Because the organism is so small, this surface has a very large area in proportion to the volume of the organism (see p. 49). The chemical reactions in cells are of two kinds: (1) building or anabolic reactions (or syntheses) in which larger molecules are constructed from smaller molecules (see Fig.

Organic molecules are a source of energy in all living organisms. The controlled release of this energy, in which most of the energy is used to do work in the organism and only a small proportion is converted to heat energy, is called respiration. This process takes place only in cells: C 6 H 12 0 6 + 6 0 2 — > 6C0 2 + 6H 2 0 + Energy sugar oxygen carbon dioxide water This equation is a summary of the materials used and the products (further information is given on p. 137). The amount of energy on the two sides of this What is Life?

This is why many organisms are known only from the fossil record. Conditions on Earth have been changed in many ways by the activities of people. As a result, many species have become extinct in the last few hundred years—especially in this century. However, we cannot necessarily eliminate a species when we wish to do so. For example, a new pesticide is introduced after tests in which it has been proved to be effective in killing the pests; and a new drug is introduced only after it has been established that it is effective in curing a disease.

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