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Turgor Pressure in Plants: Definition & Overview Video

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  • 0:01 What is Turgor Pressure?
  • 0:37 How It Works
  • 2:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

In this lesson, you will learn about the structure of plant cells and how the pressure inside is crucial for the plant's ability to grow and stand tall.

What is Turgor Pressure?

You can probably recognize a dying house plant. Its stem bends over, its leaves wilt. If you catch it in time, sometimes a good watering will allow the plant to suck in the water, fill its cells, and return it back to its straight, upright position.

Why does this happen?

Plant cells are very much like your own cells, except they are surrounded by a cell wall. This cell wall is part of what gives plants such a rigid and sturdy structure. Plant cells need a certain amount of pressure to make sure that the cell wall stays rigid. Pressure from fluid within the cell pushing against the cell wall is called turgor pressure.

How It Works

The way a cell maintains pressure is through a process called osmosis. Osmosis is the diffusion of water through a semipermeable membrane, in this case, the cell wall. Even though it's called a wall, water can pass through it in both directions. Water flows from a low concentration of particles, called solutes, to a high concentration, thus balancing the ratio of particles and water.

When a plant cell is in a solution that contains more solutes than the inside of the cell, this is called a hypertonic solution. The water from the inside of the cell rushes out to the surrounding solution, and the cell becomes plasmolyzed. This means that the inside of the cells shrink away from the cell wall. This is very unhealthy for the cell because it loses not only its water but also its rigidity and structure, often causing the plant to wilt.

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