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What is the difference between diffusion and active transport?

Active transport and diffusion are the two types of methods involved in the movement of the molecules across the cell membrane.  The cell membrane serves as a semi-permeable barrier to the molecules that pass through it.

The primary difference between active transport and diffusion is that active transport needs cellular energy to transport the molecules against the concentration gradient.

In contrast, diffusion refers to the passive transport method where the molecules move across the cell membrane through a concentration gradient.


What is diffusion?

Diffusion is a molecule’s passive movement along with the concentration of a higher one to a lower one. The diffusion methods are further categorized into three, including simple diffusion, facilitated diffusion, and osmosis.


What is active transport?

Active transport refers to the particle’s movement across the cell membrane from lower concentration to higher concentrations using metallic energy.

Active transport gets assistance from the enzymes bound to the metabolic energy and cellular membranes in the form of ATP.

The primary and secondary transports are the further two types of active transport processes.


Similarities between Diffusion and Active Transport

Both active transport and diffusion permit a cell to maintain homeostasis in the cell transporting the molecules across the cell membrane.

Molecular transportation takes place with the transmembrane proteins’ assistance other than diffusion.


Difference between Active Transport and Diffusion

Parameters Active Transport Diffusion
Definition It refers to the particle’s movements across a cellular membrane from a low concentration to a higher one by using metabolic energy. It refers to the molecule’s passive movement along a concentration gradient of higher concentration to lower one.
Concentration gradient It occurs against a concentration gradient It occurs through a concentration gradient
Metabolic energy It requires metabolic energy in ATP’s form for the molecule’s transportation across the cell membrane. It doesn’t require metabolic energy to transport molecules across the cell membrane.
Equilibrium No molecules equilibrium is established here No net molecules movement is observed after the equilibrium establishment on either side of the membrane.
Types of particles Ions, proteins, large cells, and complex sugars are transported through the cell membrane Carbon dioxide, water, sex hormones, small monosaccharides, oxygen, and other smaller hydrophobic molecules are transported through the cell membrane.
Function It allows the molecules transportation like wastes and nutrients against the concentration gradient It maintains a dynamic equilibrium of nutrients, gases, wastes, and water in and out of the cell.
Examples ·        Secretion of a substance into the bloodstream

·        Plants take up nutrients from the soil

·        Potassium or sodium pump

·        Endocytosis

·        Exocytosis

·        Diffusion of molecules from the blood to the cells

·        Oxygen moving from airways

Bottom Line!

Active transport and diffusion are the two molecule transporting methods across the cell membrane.

Diffusion is a passive process, whereas active transport requires the metabolic energy for the molecule’s transportation across the cell membrane. The primary difference between both the terms is their energy requirements for the molecule’s transportation across the cell membrane.


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