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A microbiologist has discovered what she thinks are two new types of algae. The first cell (Organism 1) appears cubic and is approximately 1.5 μm long, 1.5 μm wide and 1.5 μm deep.

The second (Organism 2) is rectangular and 2 μm wide by 5 μm long by 2μm deep.

a. What is the surface area/volume ratio of each organism?

b. Which organism will find it more difficult to interact with surrounding environment (receive nutrients, excrete metabolites etc.)?

c. How will this organism cope with the reduced capacity to interact with environment?


  1. In respects to question A.

V of Rectangular organism= (V = L x W x D)

Surface Area= (L x W)

Im assuming these simple rules still apply to organisms concerning minuscule measurements.

  1. Im assuming for question B., that the molecule with the smaller dimensions will have the most difficult time interacting with its environment, due to the fact that it has a smaller perimeter with less channels & ports.

  2. I am completely lost for problem C.

Any insight Would be awesome. Thanks all !

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  • $\begingroup$ The surface area of a rectangular prism is not length times width. Questions B and C are related to the ratio you calculate in A. $\endgroup$ – canadianer Sep 29 '14 at 3:20
  • $\begingroup$ Woops. I mean A=2(wl+hl+hw)* $\endgroup$ – Macedon93 Sep 29 '14 at 4:24
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B. Higher surface to volume ratio allows better interface with environment.

C. To increase surface area the cell can form processes such as microvilli.

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