The Journal of Membrane Biology

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 45–55 | Cite as

Ionic regulation of the unicellular green algaDunaliella tertiolecta: Response to hypertonic shock

  • J. Ehrenfeld
  • J. -L. Cousin


The evolution of the volume, the Na+ and K+ contents and the glycerol and ATP contents were investigated after subjectingDunaliella tertiolecta cells to hypertonic shocks. It was found that the variations in the glycerol and the ion contents superimpose as the cell regulates its volume. Hypertonic shock induces a rapid increase (some minutes) in the Na+ influx and Na+ content followed by a decrease until a new steady value is reached after 30 min of cell transfer. The regulatory mechanism extruding Na+ out of the cells was dependent on the presence of K or Rb ions in the external medium. A transient pumping of K+ ions was found after subjecting the cells to a hypertonic shock. This increase in K+ content resulted from the transient increase in the K+ influxes. The K+ pumping mechanism was blocked by the absence of Ca++ and Mg++ ions in the external medium and was inhibited by DCCD, FCCP and DCMU, whereas ouabain, cyanide and PCMBS were ineffective. The increase in K+ content was observed if the hypertonic shock was induced by the addition of NaCl, glycerol or choline chloride. These results are interpreted on the basis of two distinct mechanisms: a Na/K exchange pump and a Na+ independent K+ pump. These ionic transfer mechanisms would participate in the osmoregulation ofDunaliella cells and would be of importance, particularly during the onset of the osmotic shock when glycerol synthesis is incomplete.

Key Words

Dunaliella unicellular algae Na/K exchange osmoregulation glycerol ATP ion transport cell volume 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Ehrenfeld
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. -L. Cousin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire Jean Maetz du Département de Biologie du Commissariat à l'Energie AtomiqueVillefranche-sur-MerFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire et ComparéeNice CedexFrance

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