, Volume 189, Issue 1, pp 109–119

Calcium and potassium currents in the Fucus egg

  • Alison Taylor
  • Colin Brownlee

DOI: 10.1007/BF00201351

Cite this article as:
Taylor, A. & Brownlee, C. Planta (1993) 189: 109. doi:10.1007/BF00201351


The electrical properties of unfertilized eggs of Fucus serratus L. were characterized using voltage clamp and current clamp with single electrodes. The plasma membrane of the unfertilized egg is excitable. Depolarizing the egg in current clamp induced a transient depolarizing voltage response, the amplitude of which was dependent on the presence of external Ca2+ or Ba2+ and was blocked by La3+. The repolarizing phase was blocked by tetraethylammonium ions. Repeated stimulation at frequencies greater than 0.5 Hz caused a transient loss of excitability. Voltage-clamp experiments revealed that an inward current with an activation threshold of -35 mV underlies the depolarizing phase of the voltage response. This current showed rapid activation and slow inactivation. The current was blocked by La3+ and could be carried by Ca2+ and Ba2+ but not by Sr2+ or Na+. Further depolarization to values more positive than-5 mV induced a slowly activating outward K+ current in addition to the inward current, which corresponded to the repolarizing phase of the voltage response. This K+ current showed little or no inactivation during stimulation and slow deactivation on return to the resting potential. Hyperpolarizing the egg elicited an inward current. On fertilization, the Fucus egg generates a depolarizing “fertilization potential”. Voltage-clamp experiments revealed an inward fertilization current underlying the fertilization potential. Within 15 min of fertilization a dramatic, irreversible increase in resting K+ permeability developed. The roles of the plasma-membrane channels in generation of the fertilization potential and egg activation are discussed.

Key words

Egg Fertilization Fucus Ion channel Plasma membrane Voltage clamp 

Abbreviations and Symbols


artificial seawater


single-electrode current clamp


single-electrode voltage clamp




membrane potential


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alison Taylor
    • 1
  • Colin Brownlee
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Biological Association, The LaboratoryCitadel HillUK

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