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Difference between active and passive transport - Biology

Transport of Molecules

The cell membrane is semi-impermeable in nature. It allows the transfer of only a few selected molecules through it. The transport of molecules through phospholipids bi-layer is guarded by concentration channels, pumps, and proteins. The transport of certain ions and molecules requires cellular energy in the form of ATP. Based on energy requirements transportation of molecules can be of two following types:

Active Transport

The transport of molecules from one point to another across the cell membrane is called active transport. This process requires cellular energy in the form of ATP. Various macromolecules like proteins, lipids, glucose, ions, carbohydrates, etc are transported via this process. In this process, molecules move from a region of low concentration to a region of higher concentration i.e. against their concentration gradient. It is a fast, highly selective, and dynamic process. This process does not get affected in the presence of metabolic inhibitors. It is a vital process that occurs only in one direction. Uptake of minerals by roots, sodium-potassium pumps in the membranes transport molecules using active transport. This process is halted in an insufficient supply of oxygen. Active transport can be subdivided into two categories:

  1. Primary active transport: In this process, chemical energy is used to push the molecules to and from the cells, e.g., Sodium/potassium pump.
  2. Secondary active transport: Electromagnetic gradient of the cell is used to drive molecules, e.g., Calcium/sodium exchanger.

Passive Transport

The transport of molecules across the cell membrane down the concentration gradient is called passive transport. This process does not require cellular energy. No ATP is consumed in this process. As the molecules travel downwards directly, they do not require any carrier or membrane protein. Passive transport is a non-selective and slow process. The molecules move bi-directionally from a region of higher concentration towards a region of low concentration. This process helps in maintaining a steady state of equilibrium inside the cell. There is no effect of external temperature on this process.

Passive transport can be classified into four main types- osmosis, diffusion, facilitated diffusion, and filtration. Passive transport is important to the cell as it maintains balance; excrete carbon dioxide and other harmful wastes. It also provides oxygen and nutrients to the cell via diffusion. Passive transport of molecules does not get affected due to the presence of metabolic inhibitors. Low oxygen level inside the cell does not have a major impact on this process. Passive transport is seen in the exchange of gases through alveoli of the lungs, transport of molecules in the kidney and lungs, etc.

Difference between active and passive transport

Active transport Passive transport
Active transport is defined as the movement of molecules across the cell membrane by using cellular energy. Passive transport is the movement of molecules across the membrane without the use of ATP.
This process requires energy in the form of ATP No cellular energy is required in this process.
Molecules move against their concentration gradient i.e., from a region of lower concentration to a region of a higher concentration gradient. Molecules move down their concentration gradient i.e., from a region of higher concentration gradient to a region of the low concentration gradient.
Specific carrier proteins are required which pump the molecules upwards No carrier proteins are required. Molecules travel downward directly.
It is a fast process but occurs only in one direction. It is a slow process occurring bidirectionally.
This process has high selectivity. It is partly non-selective.
It is a dynamic and vital process. It can get affected by temperature. It is a physical process which is undertaken by the cell to maintain a steady state. It does not get affected by temperature.
Major components of the cell including proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates are transported by this process. Soluble materials like carbon dioxide, monosaccharide sugars, oxygen, hormones, etc are transported through this process.
Active transport is inhibited in the insufficient presence of oxygen. Passive transport is not at all affected by the level of oxygen in the cell.
This process is affected by the presence of metabolic inhibitors. The presence of metabolic inhibitors does not affect this process.
Primary active transport and secondary active transport are two categories of active transport. Osmosis, diffusion, facilitated diffusion and filtration are four types of passive transport.
Sodium pump, uptake of mineral and ions by plant roots, etc are some examples of active transport Diffusion of gases in alveoli, transport of molecules in the kidney and lung tissue are some examples of passive transport.
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