# 15.4 Gaseous exchange Essential features of surfaces over which gas exchange takes place. Fick’s Law provides an effective framework for consideration.

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15.4 Gaseous exchange Essential features of surfaces over which gas exchange takes place. Fick’s Law provides an effective framework for consideration of how the maximum rate of diffusion of respiratory gases is achieved;  By the body surface of a protoctistan  In a fish gill  In the tracheal system of insects  In the spongy mesophyll of a leaf

Ficks Law All organisms need to exchange substances such as:____________________________ These substances must diffuse between the organism and the surroundings. The rate of diffusion is calculated as follows: Rate of ∞ Surface area x conc n difference Diffusiondistance

Surface Area and Diffusion  As organisms get bigger their surface area/volume ratio gets smaller.  Bacteria are all surface with not much inside, while whales are all insides without much surface.  So as organisms become bigger it is more difficult for them to exchange materials with their surroundings.

Table of ratios OrganismLengthS/AVolS/A: Vol Bacterium1µm6x10 -12 10 -18 6,000,000:1 Amoeba100µm6x10 -8 10 -12 60,000:1 Fly10mm6x10 -4 10 -6 600:1 Dog1m616:1 Whale100m6x10 4 10 6 0.06:1

Surface area to volume ratio  Organisms also need to exchange heat with their surroundings, and here large animals have an advantage in having a ____ surface area/volume ratio: they lose less heat than small animals.  Large mammals keep warm quite easily and don't need much insulation or heat generation. Small mammals and birds lose their heat very readily, so need a high metabolic rate in order to keep generating heat, as well as thick insulation.  So large mammals can feed once every few days while small mammals must feed continuously.

Comparisons Human lungs  600 million alveoli with a total area of 100m²  each alveolus = 1 cell thick  constant ventilation replaces the air  Fish gills  feathery filaments with secondary lamellae  lamellae = 2 cells thick  water pumped over gills in countercurrent to bloodcountercurrent  Leaves  For a tree - SA of leaves =200m²; - SA of spongy cells inside leaves = 6000m².gases diffuse straight into leaf cells  wind replaces air round leaves

Respiratory Surface  Gas exchange takes place at a respiratory surface - a boundary between the external environment and the interior of the body.  For unicellular organisms the respiratory surface is simply the cell membrane, but for large organisms it is part of specialised organs like lungs, gills or leaves.  This name can cause problems - in Biology the word "respiration" means cellular respiration (ATP generation inside cells), however sometimes (such as here) it can also refer to breathing, which is what most non-biologists mean by it anyway.

Respiratory Surface  Gases cross the respiratory surface by diffusion, so from Fick's law we can predict that respiratory surfaces must have:  a ________ surface area  a ______ permeable surface  a ______ exchange surface  Many also have a mechanism to maximise the diffusion gradient by replenishing the source and/or sink.

Plants  All plant cells respire all the time, and when illuminated plant cells containing chloroplasts also photosynthesise, so plants also need to exchange gases.  The main gas exchange surfaces in plants are the spongy mesophyll cells in the leaves. Leaves of course have a huge surface area, and the irregular-shaped, loosely-packed spongy cells increase the area for gas exchange still further.  You are expected to know leaf structure in the detail shown in the diagram:

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