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Plant Physiol. 1974 Dec;54(6):855-8.

Influence of Phenolic Acids on Ion Uptake: IV. Depolarization of Membrane Potentials.

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Department of Botany and Zoology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


The membrane potentials of aged, excised barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) root cells were rapidly depolarized by the addition of salicylic acid (o-hydroxybenzoic acid) to the buffered medium bathing root segments. Initial values for membrane potentials were restored very slowly (within 100 minutes) by replacing the phenolic solution by phenolic-free buffer. Several other naturally occurring benzoic and cinnamic acids depolarized cell membrane potentials. The cinnamic acids consistently caused a greater depolarization than the correspondingly substituted benzoic acids. A strong positive correlation was found between the depolarization values (DeltaE) for the benzoic acids and their lipid solubilities. This study supports the hypothesis that the inhibition of ion uptake brought about by naturally occurring phenolic acids is caused by a generalized increase in membrane permeability to inorganic ions.

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