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J Exp Bot. 2001 Apr;52(356):541-9.

The use of microelectrodes to investigate compartmentation and the transport of metabolized inorganic ions in plants.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Physiology, IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK. tony.miller@bbsrc.ac.uk


Microelectrode measurements can be used to investigate both the intracellular pools of ions and membrane transport processes of single living cells. Microelectrodes can report these processes in the surface layers of root and leaf cells of intact plants. By careful manipulation of the plant, a minimum of disruption is produced and therefore the information obtained from these measurements most probably represents the 'in vivo' situation. Microelectrodes can be used to assay for the activity of particular transport systems in the plasma membrane of cells. Compartmental concentrations of inorganic metabolite ions have been measured by several different methods and the results obtained for the cytosol are compared. Ion-selective microelectrodes have been used to measure the activities of ions in the apoplast, cytosol and vacuole of single cells. New sensors for these microelectrodes are being produced which offer lower detection limits and the opportunity to measure other previously unmeasured ions. Measurements can be used to determine the intracellular steady-state activities or report the response of cells to environmental changes.

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