Osmoregulation is ability of living beings to maintainwater balance and the proper osmotic concentration (osmolarity) of the body fluids. Osmolarity is the measure of solute concentration of a solution. When two different aqueous solutions are separated by a semipermeable membrane (one that allows the passage of water but not solute molecules), water molecules diffusing from the region of higher water concentration to that of lower water concentration. Living organisms have evolved several mechanisms to prevent water loss or excessive water intake. In bacteria and plants, the plasma membrane is surrounded by a nonexpandable cell wall of sufficient rigidity and strength to resist osmotic pressure and prevent osmotic lysis. Certain freshwater protists that live in a highly hypotonic medium have an organelle (contractile vacuole) that pumps water out of the cell. In multicellular animals, blood plasma and interstitial fluid (the extracellular fluid of tissues) are maintained at an osmolarity close to that of the cytosol. The high concentration of albumin and other proteins in blood plasma contributes to its osmolarity. Cells also actively pump out ions such as Na+ into the interstitial fluid to stay in osmotic balance with their surroundings.
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