I am sure all of you remember your science lesson that taught about `osmosis`. It is a science lesson that I found very interesting and informative. The science of osmosis teaches that a substance can cross a semipermeable membrane in order to balance the concentrations of another substance. In biology, this is usually when a solvent, such as water, flows into or out of a cell depending on the concentration of a solute such as salt. Osmosis happens spontaneously and without any energy on the part of the cell. It is the body`s way of regulating the concentration of solutes in a controlled yet diffused way throughout the body. One of the easiest ways to study osmosis is through the movement of water into the plants. Water enters the plant root cells from the soil via osmosis. Water moves because the overall water potential in the soil is higher than the water potential in the roots and plant parts. The surface of every root is essentially a semipermeable barrier that allows water molecules to pass through. Most plant roots have hairs to increase the surface area of this membrane and maximize water intake. The roots also absorb any nutrients in the soil that are small enough to pass through the barrier along with the water. The water gained by osmosis can help keep a plant cell rigid. However if the soil is too dry then there will be no net movement into the plant cells and the plant will die.
Osmosis can have adverse effects on animals such as fish. If freshwater or saltwater fish are put into water that has a different salt concentration than they are used to, they will die from having too much water enter or leave their cells. In this way, osmosis can affect humans as well; in a person infected with cholera, the bacteria overpopulate the intestines, leaving the intestines unable to absorb water. The bacteria actually reverses the flow of absorption because osmosis causes water to flow out of the intestinal cells instead of into it. This causes severe dehydration and in extreme conditions can lead to death.
In the English speaking world there is a proverb, `if you lie down with dogs you will raise up with fleas`. In other words, the close contact with the dog will contaminate you. The fleas on the dog will infiltrate you. When the roots of the plants are in contact with damp soil the water will pass over into the roots, osmosis. This proverb was first recorded in English in James Sanford`s Garden of Pleasure 1573, which had been dedicated to Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, a long-time favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. The quote has a large almost universally agreed meaning of “You should be cautious of the company you keep.” The proverb is a warning that if you are in close contact with something or someone it will influence you for good or for bad. This saying is like the Bible verse which warns about what type of friendships we should maintain. In 1Corinthians 15:33 the Bible says “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The city of Corinth, at the time the apostle Paul was writing, was known for its immoral living, it was a sin city. Paul in this verse is warning the Christian community to be careful of the company they keep. If they are spending all their time with the wicked then the influences of the wicked will contaminate them without them even noticing. Paul warns that it will affect their thoughts and values, as well as their actions and talk. Be not deceived, don`t be fooled and think it can`t happen to you. What company you keep will influence you!