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What’s the difference between active and passive transport in plants

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What is the difference between active and passive transport?
Active Vs Passive Transport

active vs passive transport in plants | what is the difference between active and passive transport  in plants

Difference Between Active and Passive Transport
Active Vs Passive Transport

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The movement of substances across biological membranes is an essential part of the function of all living organisms. There are two main types of transport systems in biology: active and passive transport.

In biology, transport is the movement of substances across a membrane, or through a medium, against the gradient of concentration.

For example, in plants and animals, nutrients and gases diffuse across cell membranes to where they are needed (active transport), while oxygen diffuses through the air (passive transport).


In this article, we’ll look at active vs passive transport in biology more closely—what they are, their differences, and examples of them in nature.

6 Key Differences Between Active and Passive Transport

what is the difference between active and passive transport
  1. The difference in Basic Definition.
  2. The energy required in Active Vs Passive Transport
  3. Circulation Difference between Active and Passive Transport
  4. Carrier Proteins
  5. Directions
  6. Types of Active Transport Vs Passive Transport in Plants
  1. The difference in Basic Definition

Active Transport: In active transport, a cell uses energy to actively pump molecules out of its interior or to actively pull them inside, against their concentration gradient.

For example, plant cells use ATP to actively transport nutrients into themselves across their membranes. The direction of active transport is always from regions with a low concentration (i.e., high chemical potential) to regions with a higher concentration (i.e., lower chemical potential).

Passive Transport: Passive transport is one of two types of movement in plants. Plants can take up certain substances via passive transport. If a substance is dissolved in water, then it can move across a membrane down its concentration gradient without needing to spend energy.

In plants, passive transport relies on a form of diffusion. Many vitamins and minerals need to move in and out of plant cells to function; plants absorbed them through passive transport.

The process is less energy-intensive than active transport because it requires neither membrane proteins nor ATP, though it is slower.

Examples of substances that travel through passive transport include nitrate, zinc, copper, iron, and manganese.

  1. Energy required in Active Vs Passive Transport

For plants, active transport means energy is required to move substances against concentration gradients in either direction. This is used in plants to pump solutes against osmotic gradients into guard cells, for example.

Energy is required to push substances against their concentration gradients in active transport. This energy can come from ATP hydrolysis or light.

However, when water molecules travel across cell membranes by facilitating diffusion (passive transport), no energy is required. Also, the energy required in passive transportation differs in plants depending on whether they are aquatic or terrestrial.

While both active and passive transport requires energy in plants, passive transport requires no movement to take place. Therefore, most of our green friends’ cells aren’t equipped with flagella or cilia—they don’t have to move anything around!

If you’re studying plants, it’s useful to understand what energy is required for active transportation between cells as well as how passive diffusion works in plant tissues.

  1. Circulation Difference between Active and Passive Transport

Plants take in nutrients from their roots and then use active transport to circulate them through their trunks to all other parts of their bodies, including their leaves. Nutrients travel from a region of lower concentration to a region of higher concentration in active transportation.

Nutrients can also be absorbed passively, without moving across cell membranes through protein channels. This is called passive transport. In such types of plant circulation, substances move from areas of high to low concentration by osmosis, across cell membranes with specialized proteins, against their respective concentrations.

Which process is faster?

Is active transportation fast or slow? Here are the reasons why these two can differ in nature. The first difference is that active transport relies on energy from an outside source (this could be another molecule or food).

This makes it faster than passive transportation, which does not use any outside energy source to move molecules across membranes.

  1. Carrier Proteins

You might remember that active transport happens when a cell’s plasma membrane has enough energy to overcome a large concentration gradient. This means an external energy source like ATP powers active transport.

To move small molecules (like glucose) across its membrane, a cell can use special carrier proteins such as sodium-potassium pumps in animal cells or sodium-proton exchangers in plant cells. These transporters shuttle small molecules against their concentration gradients without using much energy at all.

While in the passive transportation carrier proteins are not required.

  1. Directions

The direction of active transport in plants is from the roots to the leaves. This is because the energy for active transport is coming from the light, hitting the chloroplasts in the leaves. Active transport moves substances against a gradient, so it moves substances uphill, or against an established concentration gradient.

Active transport is one-directional, meaning it takes place in only one direction. This is because energy is used to create diffusion gradients that move molecules away from where they are being actively transported. Passive transport, so, relies on a random molecular motion for the movement of substances across membranes. Hence, it is bi-directional.

  1. Types of Active & Passive Transport

There are two main types of active transport:

Primary (direct) active transport –Involves the direct use of metabolic energy (e.g. ATP hydrolysis) to mediate transport.

Secondary (indirect) active transport –Involves coupling the molecule with another moving along an electrochemical gradient.

Passive transport occurs when molecules move down a concentration gradient. This type of transport is not dependent on energy from any other source. 

Passive transport in plants can be divided into three types: diffusion, osmosis, and facilitated diffusion. There are many passive transports because they do not require energy input to move molecules from one area to another.

Plants use passive transport as part of photosynthesis to distribute sucrose throughout the plant body so they can use it as an energy source for cellular respiration.

Congratulations, you have read the complete article about the difference between active and passive transport in plants. If you have any doubts or queries, feel free to comment below. We will respond as soon as possible.

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