Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Proton Motive Force

  • José Pascual AbadEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_141-2



Proton motive force (PMF) is the force that promotes the movement of protons across membranes downhill the electrochemical potential.


A difference of solute concentration between two compartments separated by a biological membrane generates a tendency to equilibrium, which, in the case of protons, is called proton motive force (PMF). This is measured in terms of the potential energy resulting from the difference in concentration between the two compartments. With a charged solute, the potential has two components: the chemical (concentration) and the electrical potentials (Fig. 1); thus, it is named electrochemical potential.


ATP synthase LUCA Proton gradient Sodium motive force 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Baker-Austin C, Dopson M (2007) Life in acid: pH homeostasis in acidophiles. Trends Microbiol 15:165–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Daniel H, Spanier B, Kottra G, Weitz D (2006) From bacteria to man: archaic proton-dependent peptide transporters at work. Physiology (Bethesda) 21:93–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Harris DA (1995) Bioenergetics at a glance: an illustrated introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Lane N, Allen JF, Martin W (2010) How did LUCA make a living? Chemiosmosis in the origin of life. Bioessays. doi:10.1002/bies.200900131Google Scholar
  5. Nicholls DG, Ferguson SJ (2002) Bioenergetics 3. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Papa S, Lorusso M, Di Paola M (2006) Cooperativity and flexibility of the protonmotive activity of mitochondrial respiratory chain. Biochim Biophys Acta 1757:428–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias, Departamento de Biología MolecularUniversidad Autónoma de MadridCantoblanco, MadridSpain