pH Banding in Charophyte Algae

  • Mary J. BeilbyEmail author
  • Mary A. Bisson


The internodal cells of Characean algal species have long served as a model for membrane processes in plants, because their large size (up to several centimetres in length), simple geometry (cylinder) and clear separation from other cells in the plant have allowed experimental techniques such as multielectrode electrophysiological techniques and cell perfusion. However, the membranes of these cells are not homogeneous, but show distinct differences in their electrophysiological characteristics and transport capabilities. The most obvious example of this non uniformity is the pH difference seen in the external medium surrounding the cells, the “acid bands”, with a pH similar or slightly acid to the bulk medium, and “alkaline bands”, which can support a pH of 10 or higher. We explore here the transport properties that underlie these differences and their relation to photosynthesis.


Banding Pattern Cytoplasmic Streaming Unstirred Layer Perfuse Cell Acid Band 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Adenosine diphosphate


Action potential


Artificial pond water


Adenosine triphosphate




Nernst potential for the ion j


Dissolved inorganic carbon








Ethoxyzolamide, an inhibitor of carbonic anhydrase


1–ethyl -3-(3-dimethylamino-propyl) carbodiimide


Vacuole to outside potential difference


Cytoplasm to outside potential difference


Vacuole to cytoplasm potential difference


Faraday constant 96,485.3 C/mol in Eqs. 11.111.3


Fluorescence yield


Saturation fluorescence


Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation


Background conductance (I/V modelling)


Conductance as a function of voltage

\( \Updelta \bar{\mu }_{H} ,\Updelta \bar{\mu }_{\text{Na}} \)

Electrical chemical potential difference for H+ or Na+, respectively

H+/OH state

State of the membrane whose electrical characteristics are dominated by H+ or OH leak


4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid, zwitterionic buffer with pKa = 7.55/OH


Background current (I/V modelling)

kio0, koI0, kio, koi

Proton pump parameters (I/V modelling)


Current as a function of voltage


N-ethyl maleimide


Non-photochemical quenching, a measure of impairment of photosynthesis derived from fluorescence studies


Number of channels conducting ion X


p-(chloromercuri)benzene sulfonate


Electrical potential difference across a membrane


Cytoplasmic pH


External pH

Po− and Po+

Open probabilities of a channel at negative and positive potentials, respectively


Gas constant 8.314 J/mol.K


Plasma membrane resistance


Temperature in Kelvin


Transmembrane PD in volts


Half-activation potential (Eqs. 11.2, 11.3)


Background current reversal PD (I/V modelling, usually taken as -100 mV)

[X]o, [X]i

Medium and intracellular concentrations, respectively, of ion X (Eq. 11.1)


Quantum yield, a measure of photosynthesis derived from fluorescence studies


Valency of ion X (Eq. 11.1)


Charge associated with channel gating (Eqs. 11.2, 11.3)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Physics, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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