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Adv Microb Physiol. 2009;55:1-79, 317. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2911(09)05501-5.

Cytoplasmic pH measurement and homeostasis in bacteria and archaea.

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Department of Biology, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH, USA.


Of all the molecular determinants for growth, the hydronium and hydroxide ions are found naturally in the widest concentration range, from acid mine drainage below pH 0 to soda lakes above pH 13. Most bacteria and archaea have mechanisms that maintain their internal, cytoplasmic pH within a narrower range than the pH outside the cell, termed "pH homeostasis." Some mechanisms of pH homeostasis are specific to particular species or groups of microorganisms while some common principles apply across the pH spectrum. The measurement of internal pH of microbes presents challenges, which are addressed by a range of techniques under varying growth conditions. This review compares and contrasts cytoplasmic pH homeostasis in acidophilic, neutralophilic, and alkaliphilic bacteria and archaea under conditions of growth, non-growth survival, and biofilms. We present diverse mechanisms of pH homeostasis including cell buffering, adaptations of membrane structure, active ion transport, and metabolic consumption of acids and bases.

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