1. We have confirmed the results of earlier workers particularly of Northrop and De Kruif in regard to the following points:
(a) the general tendency of the bacterial cell when suspended in distilled water near the zone of neutrality to move toward the anode of an electrical field;
(b) the fact that the migration of bacterial cells in the electrical field is a function of the reaction of the menstruum. The curve obtained by plotting velocity of migration against pH passes through an isoelectric point at about pH 3.0, at greater acidity the direction of migration becomes reversed (toward the cathode) and in still more acid solution (pH = 1.0) again disappears; while at reactions less acid than pH 3.0 the velocity is toward the anode and increases with increasing alkalinity;
(c) the fact that neutral salts depress the velocity of migration, calcium salts being much more effective than sodium salts of the same concentration.
2. We further find:
(a) that on the extreme alkaline side of the curve of velocity of migration plotted against pH a maximum value is reached at about pH 10 with a fall at about pH 12.0 which in many experiments reaches an isopotential point;
(b) that the depressing effect of salts is accompanied by a general shifting of the curve of migration velocity so that a maximum velocity (of course absolutely less than that manifest in the absence of salts) appears at about pH 7.0 and an abolition of velocity at pH 9.0 to 10.0;
(c) that an apparent "antagonistic" effect is indicated between CaCl2 and NaCl, the presence of a certain concentration of the latter salt diminishing to a slight but definite degree the depressing effect produced by the former;
(d) that heat-killed bacterial cells exhibit essentially the same curve of migration velocity as that of the living cells;
(e) that bacterial spores exhibit the same general curve of migration velocity as vegetative cells, although the actual velocity is apparently slightly less.
3. All of the observed phenomena appear to be in accord with the assumption that marked differences in dielectric constants did not appear under the conditions studied and if this assumption be granted the results are in accord with the fundamental postulates of the Donnan equilibrium as applied to the explanation of the origin of potential difference between a bacterial cell and its enveloping menstruum. It is possible but not at all certain that the phenomenon of antagonism may require the introduction of additional assumptions for its explanation.
Professor Donnan and other investigators have clearly understood the importance of applying the concept of membrane equilibria in the elucidation of physiological phenomena. Our findings add to the numerous vindications favoring this view and emphasize the importance of further study of membrane equilibria in bacterial suspensions. We have pointed out that certain potential differences between bacteria and their menstrua are apparently associated with some of the phenomena of viability. Viability and potential differences may, however, under certain conditions vary quite independently as evidenced by the fact that normal rates of migration are demonstrable after the cells have been killed by heat. Thus, considerable caution must be exercised in relating the existence of these charges to the metabolism of the cell.