If a cell that contained 2% salt were placed in pure distilled water (0% saline solution),  would the cells be immeresed in a hypotonic, isotonic or hypertonic solution?

Asked on by monique06

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boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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I assume from your question that the cell in question has an intracellular salt concentration of 2%.  This would make the cell abnormal as a human cell inasmuch as human cells have a salt concentration of approximately 0.9%.

Distilled water has no salt or solute, and therefore represents the most extreme example of a hypotonic solution (a solution having a salt concentration lower than that normally found in the human blood, cells and fluids).

A 2% salt solution would be hypertonic.

A 0.9% salt solution would be isotonic.

Therefore, the answer to your question is that a cell with 2% tonicity in distilled water is immersed in a hypotonic solution.  The result would be migration of water across the cell membrane into the intracellular fluid, distending and eventually rupturing and destroying the cell...a process called lysis.

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