Intracellular pH (pH1) of sea urchin eggs and embryos was determined using DMO (5,5-dimethyl-2,4-oxazolidinedione). By this method, the pH1 of Lytechinus pictus eggs increased after fertilization from 6.86 to 7.27, and this higher pHi was maintained thereafter, as has been previously observed with pH microelectrodes. The same general result was obtained with the eggs of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, in contrast to previous estimates of the pH of egg homogenates from this species, which had indicated a rise and then fall of pHi after fertilization. pHi did not significantly change during early cell divisions. Studies of treatments that alter pHi confirmed that ammonia alkalizes and acetate acidifies the cells. The regulation of pHi by embryos in the acidic seawater is impaired if sodium is absent, whereas unfertilized eggs can regulate pHi in acidic, sodium-free seawater.

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