I am researching a way to monitor the membrane damage of cells. To do that I fist have to have reference points, namely, cells with damaged membranes.

I am working with Dunalliela, Hematococcus (both microalgae), and common yeast. I have been using mostly ethanol to damage the membranes so far.

What other ways are there to cause the most possible damage to microalgae (or yeast) membranes?. The idea is not total cell obliteration, but rather membrane damage (death is expected).


1 Answer 1


To get to the membrane of these species you first need to get past a formidable cell wall. The methods listed below are therefore more aimed at making cells permeable but the membranes must sustain some damage in the process.

  • At our lab we regularly use glass bead transformation for microalgae transformation. The microabrasion allows DNA to go in so I imagine the membranes must be damaged somehow.
  • I've also used hypotonic media (depending on the strain) to swell cells close to their bursting point. I imagine they become rather permeable at this point since they let several dyes in that are otherwise excluded.
  • $\begingroup$ Do you just use deionized water as the hypotonic media?. By the way, Dunaliella lacks a cell wall. Thanks for your answer! $\endgroup$
    – Keine
    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ I did not know that about Dunalliela, thanks for pointing that out! Yes distilled was always the first thing we tried, it did not work on every alga though. There actually is a paper about this on swelling Dunalliela: plantphysiol.org/content/93/2/403.full.pdf The other thing that actually came to mind while writing this thing was digitonin which is often used to solubilize membrane proteins. Other detergents might be worth a look too. $\endgroup$
    – mimat
    Mar 31, 2015 at 13:15

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