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One of the defining characteristics of life outlined in Chapter 1 was the need for every living thing to maintain homeostasis, the regulation of a specific internal environment regardless of external conditions. One way cells accomplish this is via a plasma or cell membrane. The membrane functions in two ways:
  • it forms a barrier between the cell and its surroundings.
  • it allows for transport of specific molecules and ions into and out of the cell.
The plasma membrane is the key to the survival of the cell and of the organism. In this chapter, we will investigate the structure of the membrane and consider how it functions to maintain homeostasis.

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