16th October 2019

enotes
17

Is it better to have a small surface area to volume ratio?

Volume gets much bigger much faster because it's working in three dimensions. But a smaller cell has a better surface area to volume ratio, which means the difference between the total surface area and the total volume isn't that large. Good ratio = efficient cell.

Likewise, what does surface area to volume ratio mean to a cell?

This is why the ratio of surface area to volume decreases as cell size increase. There is an optimum value of surface area to volume ratio when exchange of nutrients and wastes by diffusion becomes inadequate in a cell.

Is it better for a cell to have a small surface area to volume ratio?

The important point is that the surface area to the volume ratio gets smaller as the cell gets larger. Thus, if the cell grows beyond a certain limit, not enough material will be able to cross the membrane fast enough to accommodate the increased cellular volume.