The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 85–96 | Cite as

Determination of permeability coefficients, reflection coefficients, and hydraulic conductivity ofChara corallina using the pressure probe: Effects of solute concentrations

  • Ernst Steudle
  • Stephen D. Tyerman


The pressure probe technique which has been used for measurement of water relations parameters of plant cells [hydraulic conductivity (Lp), elastic modulus (ε) and half-time of water flow equilibration for individual cells (T12/w)] can be used also for measuring reflection and permeability coefficients (σ,Ps) of permeable solutes. In the presence of a permeable osmoticum the pressure/time curves are biphasic, i.e. after a rapid water flow bringing turgor pressure to a minimum value (Pmin), a second phase occurs in which turgor pressure increases back to the original value (Po). The second phase (“solute phase”) is due to an equilibration of the solute across the cell membrane and can be used to evaluatePs. The responses are strictly reversible, i.e. when the osmoticum is removed a pressure maximum is quickly reached followed by a slower equilibration of solute. The reflection coefficients for the solutes can be calculated from the change in osmotic pressure of the medium (Δψs0) and from the change in turgor at the minimum (Po−Pmin) after correcting for solute flow. For internodal cells ofChara corallina, reflection and permeability coefficients for certain nonelectrolytes (sugars, polyols, monohydroxyalcohols, amides, ketones) are given and compared with data obtained by other methods. ForChara, Ps and osmotic values ofLp depended on external stirring, whereas σ corrected for solute flow did not. As expected hydrostaticLp did not depend on stirring. No polarity of water flow was found for hydrostaticLp (Lpen/Lpex=1.02±0.05, 95% confidence limits) whereas a polarity was observed for osmoticLp which can be explained in terms of a concentration effect. Using permeable solutes, the concentration dependence ofLp, σ andPs could be measured over large concentration ranges (up to 1.4m) at constant cell turgor.Ps was independent of solute concentration for concentrations up to 1.4m while both σ andLp decreased with increasing concentration such that there was a linear relationship between (1−σ) and 1/Lp as predicted by the frictional model for a lipid membrane with pores. The slope of the (1−σ)vs. 1/Lp plot gives a value ofPs and the intercept with the (1−σ) axis gives the degree of frictional interaction between solute and water. The frictional term was found to be significantly greater than zero. The values ofPs evaluated from the solute phase were smaller than those obtained from the (1−σ)vs. 1/Lp plots. However, they were of the same order of magnitude and showed the same sequence for the different solutes. The technique for determiningPs and σ is of importance for obtaining quantitative data for the permeation of water-soluble pollutants into plant cells and tissues and for their ecotoxicological significance.

Key Words

Chara corallina hydraulic conductivity pressure probe reflection coefficient solute permeability water relations 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernst Steudle
    • 1
  • Stephen D. Tyerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Arbeitsgruppe Membranforschung am Institut für MedizinKernforschungsanlage JülichJülichFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesThe Flinders University of South AustraliaBedford Park

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