Steady-state rates of potassium ion and sodium ion absorption by excised barley roots accompanied by various anions were compared with the rates of anion absorption and the concomitant H+ and base release by the roots. The cation absorption rates were found to be independent of the identities, concentrations, and rates of absorption of the anions of the external solution, including bicarbonate. Absorption of the anion of the salt plus bicarbonate could not account for the cation absorption. H+ is released during cation absorption and base during anion absorption. The magnitude by which one or the other predominates depends on the relative rates of anion and cation absorption under various conditions of pH, cation and anion concentration, and inhibitor concentrations. The conclusion is that potassium and sodium ions are absorbed independently of the anions of the absorption solution in exchange for H+, while anions are exchanged for a base. The H+ release reflects a specificity between K+ and Na+ absorption such that it appears to be H+ exchanged in the specific rate-limiting reactions of the cation absorption.

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