Electrophysiology of the Plasma Membrane of Higher Plant Cells: New Insights from Patch-Clamp Studies

  • R. Hedrich
  • H. Stoeckel
  • K. Takeda


There can be little argument as to the fundamental importance of ion transport mechanisms for the physiology of plant cells. While excitable electrical behavior was first observed in plant cells about a century ago (e.g., Sanderson 1888), the underlying mechanisms responsible for this behavior are only now being directly studied at the molecular level. Ion channels are integral transmembrane proteins, which when open allow the movement of ions and some nonelectrolytes down their electrochemical gradients (for review, Hille 1984; Catterall 1988). Although ionic currents in plant cell membranes were among the first to be studied in detail (e.g., Michaelis 1925; Cole and Curtis 1938), by comparison with their animal cell counterparts the electrophysiological characterization of plant ion channels has been somewhat slower. This has been due to problems specific to plant cells, such as the presence of the cell wall, having the plasma membrane and vacuolar membrane in series, and the relatively small cytoplasmic compartment. The latter is especially a problem in higher plants.


Guard Cell Vacuolar Membrane Pump Current Plant Cell Membrane Squid Giant Axon 
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fast vacuole


slow vacuole




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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Hedrich
    • 1
  • H. Stoeckel
    • 2
  • K. Takeda
    • 3
  1. 1.Pflanzenphysiologisches InstitutUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire Végétale-CNRS UA1182Université Louis Pasteur de StrasbourgStrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Pharmacologic Cellulaire et Moléculaire-CNRS UA600Université Louis Pasteur de StrasbourgIllkirchFrance

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