Osmosis through the Cell Membrane of an Egg

Introduction:
The cell or plasma membrane is made up of phospholipids and different types of proteins that move laterally. These include peripheral proteins, which are attached to the interior and exterior surface of the cell membrane. Integral proteins are embedded in the lipid bilayer. Attached to these integral proteins are carbohydrate chains. These carbohydrates may hold adjoining cells together, or act as sites where viruses or chemical messengers such as hormones can attach. Cell membranes are selectively permeable. They allow some substances to pass through, but not others. Small molecules that are usually nonpolar, such as oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide, easily move through the lipid bilayer. Larger molecules, such as glucose, the food for all living things, must seek aid from the carrier proteins in a process called facilitated diffusion. Facilitated diffusion is a process used for molecules that cannot diffuse rapidly through cell membranes. Integral proteins are used by calcium, potassium, and sodium ions to move through the cell membrane. The muscles and nerves use these ions.
Diffusion is the movement of molecules from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. This difference in the concentration of molecules across a space is called a concentration gradient. Diffusion is a type of passive transport, meaning it does not require energy input by the cell. This type of transport and osmosis are the two processes used in this lab. Osmosis is the process by which water molecules diffuse across a cell membrane from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. When the concentration of the solute is higher outside of the cell, it is known as a hypertonic solution. When the concentration of the solute is lower outside of the cell, it is known as a hypotonic solution.

Hypothesis:
The substance, syrup, which has a higher solute concentration than the interior of the eggs, will cause water to leave the eggs’ membrane; the other substance, distilled water, which has a lower solute concentration than the eggs’ interior, will cause liquid to enter the eggs’ membrane.

Materials:
The materials necessary for this lab are: two fresh eggs in their shells, a felt tip marker, 200mL graduated cylinder, five jars, clear Saran wrap, white vinegar, clear sugar syrup (Karo), distilled water, tap water, pencil, paper, eraser, computer, electronic scale, and a plastic tray.

Methods:
Day One: On day one, label the five jars, with the felt tip marker: one labeled vinegar, two labeled syrup, and two labeled distilled water. Also put the group number on each jar. Find the mass of each egg and record this information in the data table. Place the two eggs in the jar labeled vinegar. Add vinegar until both eggs are submerged by it. Cover the jar with the clear Saran wrap. Place the jar on the plastic tray and allow to set for 24 hours.

Day Two: On day two, observe what has happened to your eggs. Record this in a data table. Now that the eggs’ shells are dissolved, gently remove the eggs from the vinegar. Rinse each egg with tap water. Pat the eggs dry with paper towels and mass them separately on the electronic balance. Record this in the data table. Place the eggs in the jars labeled syrup. Add syrup to each jar (labeled egg 1 or egg 2) until the eggs are submerged in syrup. Loosely cover each jar with Saran wrap. Place the jars on the tray and allow them to soak for 24 hours.

Day Three: On day three, observe what has happened to the eggs and record this information in the data table. Carefully remove the eggs from the syrup and rinse them with tap water. Pat dry with paper towels. Using the electronic balance, find the mass of each egg separately and record these masses in the data table. Place the eggs in the jars labeled distilled water (labeled egg 1 and egg 2). Add distilled water to each jar until the eggs are covered. Cover the jars with the Saran wrap and allow them to sit on the tray for 24 hours.

Day Four: On day four, remove the eggs from the jars and record the eggs’ appearance. Mass each egg on the electronic balance. Record this in the data table. Dispose of the eggs in the container provided by the teacher.

Results:

Egg 1 Data Table

Substance egg submerged in

Egg’s mass before placed in substance

Egg’s mass after removed from substance

Observations of egg before placed in solution

Observations of egg after removed from substance

Vinegar

59.2 g

86.0 g

The egg’s shell is intact and is included in the first mass.

The egg’s shell dissolved and wasn’t included in the 2nd mass.

Syrup

86.0 g

53.2 g

The egg is swollen and soft, yet firm to touch.

The liquid inside the egg diffused into the syrup.

Distilled Water

53.2 g

86.5 g

The egg has lost some of its firmness.

The water diffused into the egg, increasing the egg’s mass.

Egg 2 Data Table

Substance egg submerged in

Egg’s mass before place in substance

Egg’s mass after removed from substance

Observations of egg before placed in solution

Observations of egg after removed from substance

Vinegar

58.8 g

85.6 g

The egg’s shell is intact and is included in the first mass.

The egg’s shell is mostly dissolved and so wasn’t included in 2nd mass.

Syrup

85.6 g

52.2 g

The egg is rough to touch and feels rather sturdy.

The liquid inside the egg diffused into the syrup.

Distilled Water

52.2 g

88.9 g

The egg feels more fragile and lighter in weight.

The water diffused into the egg increasing the egg’s mass.

 

Egg in Hypotonic Solution of Vinegar & Plasmolyzed Egg in Distilled Water

Egg in Hypertonic Solution of Syrup

      

1. When the egg was place in the water, in which direction did the water molecules move? The water moved into the eggs from the surrounding environment.

2. On what evidence do you base this? The eggs’ masses had increased from the time they were placed in the water to when the eggs were removed.

3. How do you explain the volume of liquid remaining when the egg was removed from the syrup? The volume of the liquid remaining when the egg was removed from the syrup must have increased because the eggs’ masses had decreased. The liquid within the eggs left the eggs and diffused into the surrounding syrup.

4. When the egg was place in the water after being removed from the syrup, in which direction did the water move? The water moved into the eggs.

Error Analysis:
Several errors may have occurred during this lab. When finding the eggs’ masses, on each occasion, an error may have occurred. Mistakes may have been made when recording these masses on the data table. Some of the eggs’ shell may have been left on the eggs’ membranes and changed the outcome of this lab. When the eggs were rinsed, after being placed in the vinegar and syrup, a small amount of water could have entered through the membranes of the eggs, effecting their masses. These are just a few of the errors that may have taken place throughout the lab.

Discussion and Conclusion:
The hypothesis was correct. When the eggs were placed in the syrup, their masses decreased greatly. This shows that the interior of the eggs must have had a lower solute concentration than their surrounding environment of syrup. The water within the eggs left through the membrane and diffused into the syrup, decreasing its solute concentration. When the eggs were placed in the distilled water, their masses greatly increased. This shows that the interior of the eggs must have had a higher solute concentration than their surrounding environment of distilled water. The distilled water diffused into the eggs’ membrane, decreasing the interior of the eggs’ solute concentration.

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