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F214, Communication, Homeostasis and Energy

Module 1 Communication and Homeostasis

1.1.1. The need for Communication
a. Outline the need for communication systems within multicellular
organisms, with reference to the need to respond to changes in the
internal and external environment and to coordinate the activities of
different organs.
All living things need to maintain certain limited set of conditions inside
their cells. The cellular activities of organisms rely on the action of
enzymes. Enzymes need specific conditions in order to work efficiently:
- A suitable temperature
- A suitable pH
- aqueous environment so everything is kept in solution
- freedom from toxins and excess inhibitors.
With every organism the external environment can change. As it changes
it may place stress on the living organism. If the organism is to survive,
changes in the environment must be monitored and the organism must
change its behaviour or physiology to reduce stress. The environmental
change is a stimulus and the way in which the organism changes its
behaviour is the response.
In most multicellular organisms there are a range of tissues and organs
which are protected by epithelial tissues and organs such as skin or bark.
In animals, the internal cells are bathed in tissue fluid. This is the internal
environment. As cells carry out their metabolic activities they use
substrates and produce products. Some of these products may be
unwanted or even toxic. These substances diffuse out of the cells and into
the tissue fluid.
The composition of the tissue fluid is maintained by the blood. Blood flows
throughout the body and transports substances to and from the cells. Any
waste or toxins accumulating in the tissue fluid are likely to enter the
blood and be carried away. To prevent their accumulation in the body they
are excreted.
A multicellular organism is more efficient than a single celled organism
because its cells can be differentiated. Therefore the cells can be
specialised to perform particular functions. Groups of cells specialised in
this way from tissues and organs. A good communication system is
required to ensure that these different parts of the body work together
effectively. A good communication system:
- covers the whole body
- enables cells to communicate with each other

- enables specific communication

- enables rapid communication
- enables short term and long term responses.
b. State that cells need to communicate with each other by a process
called cell signalling.
Cells communicate with one another by the process of cell signalling. This
involves one cell releasing a chemical that is detected by another cell. The
second cell will respond to the signal released by the first cell.
c. State that neuronal and hormonal systems are examples of cell
There are two major systems that work by cell signalling.

The neuronal system an interconnected network of neurones that

signal to each other across synapse junctions. The neurones can
conduct a signal very quickly and enable rapid responses to stimuli
that may be changing quickly.
The hormonal system this uses the blood to transport its signals.
Cells in an endocrine organ release the signal directly into the blood.
It is carried all over the body but is only recognised by specific
target cells. The hormonal system enables longer term responses to
be coordinated.