Lysis describes the process of disrupting the membrane of a cell through osmotic stress, enzymatic digestion or viral mechanisms. During lysis, the fluid cell content, called lysate, is released.
In laboratories, cell lysis is often used to purify and further study a cell's content such as the proteins or the DNA. Mechanic techniques (i.e sonication) or chemical techniques (i.e detergents) can be applied to break the cells open.
Figure 1: Cell lysis: Depiction of protein (green) release.