Hemolymph: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 What Is Hemolymph?
  • 0:25 Function of Hemolymph
  • 1:30 Why Hemolymph?
  • 1:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
Circulation is a process that is found in all organisms. Hemolymph is the fluid that is used in invertebrates for the purposes of circulation. Read more to find out about this particular fluid and its use in lower animals.

What Is Hemolymph?

One of the major characteristics of life is circulation. This is a process by which liquid materials travel throughout the bodies of different animals. In vertebrate animals, animals with backbones, the fluid that circulates within the body is called blood. However, in invertebrates, this fluid is known as hemolymph.

Function of Hemolymph

Blood and lymph are two fluids in the bodies of vertebrates that do related but separate jobs. They help to remove waste materials, transport nutrients, and clean the system of pathogens and debris. In invertebrates, however, these two fluids are not separated, and therefore these same functions are carried out by one hemolymph tissue.

Hemolymph contains components that fulfill those blood and lymph based functions. For example, hemolymph contains hemocyanin, a protein that binds oxygen similar to hemoglobin. Not all invertebrates will use this protein for oxygen transport, however. Additionally, proteins and carbohydrates, which are obtained from food, are circulated in hemolymph by dissolving in the aqueous (water) portion of the fluid. In blood, this would be similar to plasma.

Hemolymph is also responsible for dissolving ions, such as potassium and sodium, which are necessary for cellular and tissue functions. Finally, hemolymph contains a small number of cells that provide the organism some immunity, or defense against diseases.

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