Do plant cells prefer isotonic, hypertonic, or hypotonic environments?
A hypertonic solution has a higher concentration of solute than the solution its being compared to. If the solution is a cell, then the water will move across the membrane to the solute to balance the concentration, which causes the cell to shrink as water leaves the cell.
A hypotonic solution has a lower concentration of solute than the solution its being compared to. If the solution is a cell, then the water will move across the membrane to the cell to balance the concentration, which causes the cell to swell as water enters the cell.
Isotonic solutions are solutions that have the same concentration of solute. If one of the solution is a cell, then water will diffuse both in and out of the cell, which causes no net effect on the cell.
Plants prefer hypotonic environments, because the plants will then be able to take on water and the plant cell will become “turgid” (swollen and hard). Turgidity is very important to plants, because it helps maintain the rigidity and stability of plant tissue (which allows the green parts of the plant to “stand up” into the sunlight).
If a plant would be placed in a hypertonic environment, then the plant cell will become “flaccid”. The cytoplasm in the plant cell will have shrunk and pulled away from the cell wall (this process is called plasmolysis).
If a plant is placed in an isotonic solution, then the cell is not plasmolsysed and is not turgid either. The green parts of the plant will droop and are unable to hold the leaves up into the sunlight.
CONCLUSION: Plants prefer hypotonic environments.