Membrane Structure

  • Daniel Branton
  • David W. Deamer
Part of the Protoplasmatologia book series (PROTOPLASMATOL., volume 2 / E / 1)


The boundary of all cells is delineated by a thin membrane which separates the protoplasm from its environment. The existence of this membrane was first suggested by de Vries (1885), Pfeffer (1897) and Overton (1899), who demonstrated that plant cells respond osmotically to variations in external osmolarity. However, the physical reality of the cell membrane remained controversial for many years. Cell membranes are too thin to be directly visualized in the light microscope, and their boundaries were confused with other structures at the cell surface such as the cytoplasmic cortex in animal cells or the cell wall in plant cells. Therefore, early notions about membrane structure were indirectly derived from studies of membrane function, and in fact the chemical composition of the plasma membrane was inferred from its permeability properties before any direct analyses of individual membranes could be attempted.


Electron Spin Resonance Lipid Bilayer Membrane Structure Erythrocyte Membrane Biological Membrane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Branton
    • 1
  • David W. Deamer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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