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The separation of organisms – at the level of cells, bodies, or even communities – into separate volumes where otherwise incompatible processes can take place.
Within cells compartments include membrane-bound organelles but also the active sites of enzymes. Within bodies one finds numerous compartments such as the various semi- or fully enclosed volumes associated with digestive systems or excretory systems. Given mutualistic relationships between organisms the compartments literally can be separate organisms.
Compartmentalization is crucial for appreciating the complexity of eukaryotic cells as well as the basics of pharmacology where drugs often must pass from compartment to compartment within the body to be effective, e.g., digestive system into blood (absorption) into additional tissues (distribution).
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