When uninjured cells of Valonia are placed in methylene blue dissolved in sea water it is found, after 1 to 3 hours, that at pH 5.5 practically no dye penetrates, while at pH 9.5 more enters the vacuole. As the cells become injured more dye enters at pH 5.5, as well as at pH 9.5.
No dye in reduced form is found in the sap of uninjured cells exposed from 1 to 3 hours to methylene blue in sea water at both pH values.
When uninjured cells are placed in azure B solution, the rate of penetration of dye into the vacuole is found to increase with the rise in the pH value of the external dye solution.
The partition coefficient of the dye between chloroform and sea water is higher at pH 9.5 than at pH 5.5 with both methylene blue and azure B. The color of the dye in chloroform absorbed from methylene blue or from azure B in sea water at pH 5.5 is blue, while it is reddish purple when absorbed from methylene blue and azure B at pH 9.5. Dry salt of methylene blue and azure B dissolved in chloroform appears blue.
It is shown that chiefly azure B in form of free base is absorbed by chloroform from methylene blue or azure B dissolved in sea water at pH 9.5, but possibly a mixture of methylene blue and azure B in form of salt is absorbed from methylene blue at pH 5.5, and azure B in form of salt is absorbed from azure B in sea water at pH 5.5.
Spectrophotometric analysis of the dye shows the following facts.
1. The dye which is absorbed by the cell wall from methylene blue solution is found to be chiefly methylene blue.
2. The dye which has penetrated from methylene blue solution into the vacuole of uninjured cells is found to be azure B or trimethyl thionine, a small amount of which may be present in a solution of methylene blue especially at a high pH value.
3. The dye which has penetrated from methylene blue solution into the vacuole of injured cells is either methylene blue or a mixture of methylene blue and azure B.
4. The dye which is absorbed by chloroform from methylene blue dissolved in sea water is also found to be azure B, when the pH value of the sea water is at 9.5, but it consists of azure B and to a less extent of methylene blue when the pH value is at 5.5.
5. Methylene blue employed for these experiments, when dissolved in sea water, in sap of Valonia, or in artificial sap, gives absorption maxima characteristic of methylene blue.
Azure B found in the sap collected from the vacuole cannot be due to the transformation of methylene blue into this dye after methylene blue has penetrated into the vacuole from the external solution because no such transformation detectable by this method is found to take place within 3 hours after dissolving methylene blue in the sap of Valonia.
These experiments indicate that the penetration of dye into the vacuole from methylene blue solution represents a diffusion of azure B in the form of free base. This result agrees with the theory that a basic dye penetrates the vacuole of living cells chiefly in the form of free base and only very slightly in the form of salt. But as soon as the cells are injured the methylene blue (in form of salt) enters the vacuole.
It is suggested that these experiments do not show that methylene blue does not enter the protoplasm, but they point out the danger of basing any theoretical conclusion as to permeability on oxidation-reduction potential of living cells from experiments made or the penetration of dye from methylene blue solution into the vacuole, without determining the nature of the dye inside and outside the cell.