When living cells of Nitella are exposed to an acetate buffer solution until the pH value of the sap is decreased and subsequently placed in a solution of brilliant cresyl blue, the rate of penetration of dye into the vacuole is found to decrease in the majority of cases, and increase in other cases, as compared with the control cells which are transferred to the dye solution directly from tap water. This decrease in the rate is not due to the lowering of the pH value of the solution just outside the cell wall, as a result of diffusion of acetic acid from the cell when cells are removed from the buffer solution and placed in the dye solution, because the relative amount of decrease (as compared with the control) is the same whether the external solution is stirred or not.

Such a decrease in the rate may be brought about without a change in the pH value of the sap if the cells are placed in the dye solution after exposure to a phosphate buffer solution in which the pH value of the sap remains normal. The rate of penetration of dye is then found to decrease. The extent of this decrease is the greater the lower the pH value of the solution.

It is found that hydrochloric acid and boric acid have no effect while phosphoric acid has an inhibiting effect at pH 4.8 on stirring.

Experiments with neutral salt solutions indicate that a direct effect on the cell (decreasing penetration) is due to monovalent base cations, while there is no such effect directly on the dye.

It is assumed that the effect of the phosphate and acetate buffer solutions on the cell, decreasing the rate of penetration, is due (1) to the penetration of these acids into the protoplasm as undissociated molecules, which dissociate upon entrance and lower the pH value of the protoplasm or to their action on the surface of the protoplasm, (2) to the effect of base cations on the protoplasm (either at the surface or in the interior), and (3) possibly to the effect of certain anions. In this case the action of the buffer solution is not due to its hydrogen ions.

In the case of living cells of Valonia under the same experimental conditions as Nitella it is found that the rate of penetration of dye decreases when the pH value of the sap increases in presence of NH3, and also when the pH value of the sap is decreased in the presence of acetic acid. Such a decrease may be brought about even when the cells are previously exposed to sea water containing HCl, in which the pH value of the sap remains normal.

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