Contractile Vacuole In A Cell

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The way in which water enters the CV had been a mystery for many years, but several discoveries since the 1990s have improved understanding of this issue. Water could theoretically cross the CV membrane by osmosis, but only if the inside of the CV is hyperosmotic (higher solute concentration) to the cytoplasm. The discovery of proton pumps in the CV membrane and the direct measurement of ion concentrations inside the CV using microelectrodes led to the following model: the pumping of protons either into or out of the CV causes different ions to enter the CV. For example, some proton pumps work as cation exchangers, whereby a proton is pumped out of the CV and a cation is pumped at the same time into the CV. In other cases, protons pumped into the CV drag anions with them (carbonate, for example), to balance the pH. This ion flux into the CV causes an increase in CV osmolarity and as a result water enters the CV by osmosis. Water has been shown in at least some species to enter the CV through aquaporins.

A contractile vacuole is an organelle in single-celled organisms that helps the cell remove wastes and excess water. It is found primarily in freshwater protists and algae. They are necessary because, in fresh water, the concentration of solutes inside a cell is greater than that outside the cell, so the cell constantly absorbs water through osmosis.