Active transport

Substances are transported passively down concentration gradients. Often, substances have to be moved from a low to a high concentration - against a concentration gradient.

Active transport is a process that is required to move molecules against a concentration gradient.The process requires energy.

Active transport in plants

For plants to take up mineral ions, ions are moved into root hairs, where they are in a higher concentration than in the dilute solutions in the soil. Active transport then occurs across the root so that the plant takes in the ions it needs from the soil around it.

A diagram of the root epidermal cell

Active transport in animals

In animals, glucose molecules have to be moved across the gut wall into the blood. The glucose molecules in the intestine might be in a higher concentration than in the intestinal cells and blood – for instance, after a sugary meal – but there will be times when glucose concentration in the intestine might be lower.

All the glucose in the gut needs to be absorbed. When the glucose concentration in the intestine is lower than in the intestinal cells, movement of glucose involves active transport. The process requires energy produced by respiration.

Active transport in intestine