What are Plasmolysis & Deplasmolysis?

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  • 0:00 Water Balance
  • 0:40 Plasmolysis
  • 1:20 Deplasmolysis
  • 1:50 Osmosis
  • 2:20 Examples
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, you'll learn what happens during plasmolysis and deplasmolysis and their relationship to water balance in plants. You'll also learn where these processes occur in everyday life.

Water Balance

Plants are the basis of our entire ecosystem. They can be found in the food we eat, and help to clean the air we breathe. You may be surprised to find these crucial living things are made up of 90% water. That's right, plants are mostly just water! So it's probably not surprising that water balance, or homeostasis, is incredibly important in keeping plants healthy.

When plants don't get enough water, their cells shrink in a process called plasmolysis. But when we water them, the cells swell again during deplasmolysis. Let's take a closer look at each of these terms and what they mean for our green companions.


Before we explain plasmolysis, let's talk a little about plant cell anatomy. Plant cells have a thick outer wall called a cell wall. The cell wall prevents the plants from losing their shape, and holds them upright. Beneath the cell wall is the plasma membrane, which holds the goop inside the cell in. The goop inside the cell is called the cytoplasm. Here, important parts of the cell work together to keep the plant alive. The vacuole, located inside the cytoplasm, holds the water in a plant cell, like a water tower.

During plasmolysis, plants don't get enough water. The cytoplasm and plasma membrane shrivel up and pull away from the cell wall. This causes the whole plant to wilt.


Now, let's look at the converse process, deplasmolysis. The prefix 'de' means not, or absent. In deplasmolysis, water rushes into the cell, causing the cytoplasm and plasma membrane to swell as water is stored in the vacuole. The cytoplasm pushes against the cell wall, making the cell full. The cell does not burst due to the strength of the cell wall. The pressure exerted by the water on the cell wall is called turgor pressure, and it's one of the factors that make plants stand up straight.

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