Biology Lab T 10:50 The Effects of Alcohol on the Cell Membrane Introduction To understand the effects of alcohol on cell membranes can help one understand more about the effects of alcohol on human cells that are contained in the digestive system and the blood stream. It is important to study this effect due to the fact that it can lead to the understanding of the dangers of alcohol, over consumption, and even possibly alcohol poisoning.
Performing this lab enables the students to have a firsthand experience in seeing how alcohol can enter each cell and how it weakens the cell membrane. Cell membranes are a basic essential part to all living this. Because of the phospholipid bilayer surrounding the cell, certain molecules can be kept out and good kept in. Beets were used in the experiment for many reasons. Since the beet has such a prominent colored pigment called betacyanin, it was easy to visually see how the pigment comes out when in the presence of an alcohol.
For this particular lab, one might have a researchable question as so: “Does ethanol effect cell membranes? ” To this question many hypotheses were formed. For this personal experiment, if the concentration of ethanol is increased, then it is expected that the cell membrane of the beet root will be damaged, resulting in the release of more betacyanin. To test this, a beet root was cut into identical portions to then be soaked in various ethanol solutions for five minutes each.
After the incubation, the absorbance was then measured through the use of a spectrophotometer. Three different replicates were performed. Using the absorbance, the concentration of betacyanin was then calculated through the use on Lambert-Beers Law. Results The concentration of betacyanin increases with an increase of ethanol concentration. In Figure 1, it is apparent that there is a sharp increase in the average concentration of betacyanin between a concentration of 20% ethanol and 40% ethanol.
Though it is a continues increase from the research, the rate of the betacyanin concentration increase was slowed after the 40% concentration of ethanol and from zero to 20% ethanol. At a 60% ethanol concentration the concentration of betacyanin was five times of that at a zero percent concentration. The increase is not proportional. Conclusion The results of the experiments supports the given hypothesis. This was evident due to the increases of betacyanin concentration with an increase in percent ethanol concentration seen in Figure 1.
One can further deduct from the data that the higher the level of ethanol, the higher levels of betacyanin came out. The chances of experimental error, however, came from the cutting of the beet root. When cutting, the cells have a chance to be damaged therefore giving false results. Also, the exact size of the pieces were different and the masses of each were not recorded. To ensure better concentrations, using a smaller pipette with more tick marks could lead to a better measurement of the supplies.
Performing more replicates could be another factor in determining better results. A possible reasoning for the leakage of the betacyanin out of the central vacuole of the cell and out of the membrane is that the chemical structure of ethanol interacting with the polar regions of the bilayer. This would then allow it to enter the cell and also for the pigment to flow out. This experiment leads to the next researchable question of: “What is the effect of higher concentrations of percent ethanol to the convention of betacyanin. “