1. Methods for the use of the marine green alga, Ulva lactuca, in studies on electrolyte metabolism are described.
2. The effect of illumination and iodoacetate on the potassium and sodium content, as well as the influence of light and running sea water on the iodoacetate effect was investigated. The rate of exchange of cellular potassium ion for K42 under conditions of light and dark at 20 and 30°C. was studied.
3. Ulva maintained in the dark for long periods loses some potassium and gains sodium, both effects being reversed upon illumination. The presence of 0.001 M iodoacetate in the dark causes a marked progressive loss of potassium and gain of sodium, phenomena which do not occur when the alga is illuminated. Evidence for the penetration of the inhibitor into the cell in the presence of light is presented. The iodoacetate effect on potassium and sodium content, once established, can be "washed out" of the alga when the plant is placed in light and running sea water without the inhibitor. Illumination and increased temperature each favor a more rapid exchange of tissue for environmental potassium ion.
4. In the interpretation of these findings it is emphasized that metabolic work, perhaps in the form of ion transports, must be done by the cell to compensate for the continual flow of potassium ion and sodium ion with their respective concentration gradients and thus maintain homeostasis within the cell. Evidence is presented which indicates separate mechanisms for the distribution of sodium and potassium in this organism. It is further suggested that the degradation of phosphoglyceric acid, an important glycolytic and photosynthetic intermediate, or one of the products of its metabolism supplied the energy for these ion transports(s). The role of permeability per se is considered.