What is GAS EXCHANGE? What does GAS EXCHANGE mean? GAS EXCHANGE meaning - GAS EXCHANGE definition - GAS EXCHANGE explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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Gas exchange is the biological process by which gases move passively by diffusion across a surface. Typically, this surface is - or contains - a biological membrane that forms the boundary between an organism and its extracellular environment.
Gases are constantly consumed and produced by cellular and metabolic reactions in most living things, so an efficient system for gas exchange between, ultimately, the interior of the cell(s) and the external environment is required. Small, particularly unicellular organisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, have a high surface-area to volume ratio. In these creatures the gas exchange membrane is typically the cell membrane. Some small multicellular organisms, such as flatworms, are also able to perform sufficient gas exchange across the skin or cuticle that surrounds their bodies. However, in most larger organisms, which have a small surface-area to volume ratios, specialised structures with convoluted surfaces such as gills, pulmonary alveoli and spongy mesophyll provide the large area needed for effective gas exchange. These convoluted surfaces may sometimes be internalised into the body of the organism. This is the case with the alveoli, which form the inner surface of the mammalian lung, the spongy mesophyll, which is found inside the leaves of some kinds of plant, or the gills of those molluscs that have them, which are found in the mantle cavity.
In aerobic organisms, gas exchange is particularly important for respiration, which involves the uptake of oxygen (O
2) and release of carbon dioxide (CO
2). Conversely, in oxygenic photosynthetic organisms such as most land plants, uptake of carbon dioxide and release of both oxygen and water vapour are the main gas-exchange processes occurring during the day. Other gas-exchange processes are important in less familiar organisms: e.g. carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen are exchanged across the cell membrane of methanogenic archaea. In nitrogen fixation by diazotrophic bacteria, and denitrification by heterotrophic bacteria (such as Paracoccus denitrificans and various pseudomonads), nitrogen gas is exchanged with the environment, being taken up by the former and released into it by the latter, while giant tube worms rely on bacteria to oxidize hydrogen sulfide extracted from their deep sea environment, using dissolved oxygen in the water as an electron acceptor.