Surface Area & Volume

Discussion of all aspects of cellular structure, physiology and communication.

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xLoveBug
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Surface Area & Volume

Post by xLoveBug » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:31 pm

Hey! I'm having some troubles with this question... since the text book doesn't really have a lot of info on it... the text book only talks about why cells are so small..

Why is a large surface area to volume ratio useful to a functioning cell?

-edit-

I think I might have found the answer, but I'm not sure if it's right are not...

increasing cell size results in a decrease in the surface area to volume ratio for the cell.

blcr11
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Post by blcr11 » Thu Oct 30, 2008 2:03 pm

That'e true, but isn't that more of an argument for not getting bigger? For every increase in the radius of a cell (assuming sphericity for simplicity), the surface area increases by a factor of r^2 while the volume increases by a factor of r^3. So increasing the size of a cell has the effect of reducing the surface area to volume ratio. It's a balancing act, I suppose. High surface areas are useful for getting things into or out of the cell, but you want to keep the volume as small as practical to minimize the total mass of "stuff" you need to keep the cell going.

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