Using planar lipid‐bilayers to study plant ion channels

P. J. White*, M. Tester

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Ion channels are found in most plant membranes. They catalyse the rapid passive uniport of particular ions with varying selectivity. Planar lipid‐bilayer (PLB) techniques have been developed to study the electrical activities of single ion channels in well‐defined lipid and aqueous environments. They greatly facilitate both the biophysical and biochemical characterisation of ion channels and complement both conventional impaling electrode and membrane‐patch voltage‐clamping (patch‐clamping) electrophysiological techniques applied in vivo. Bilayers can be formed across the end of patch‐clamp pipettes or across apertures in specifically designed chambers. Ion channels in native membranes and purified, genetically altered or synthetic ion channels, proteins and peptides can all be studied in PLBs. The main applications of PLBs are (1) to study ion channels in membranes inaccessible to patch‐clamp electrodes, (2) to provide a functional assay system during channel‐protein purification and (3) to investigate the relationship between the molecular structure of ion channels and their conductance properties. In the present article we describe the techniques available for reconstitution and analysis of ion channels in PLBs and discuss how the PLB technique has been, and may be, useful to the study of plant ion channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-774
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiologia Plantarum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Electrophysiology
  • ion channels
  • planar lipid bilayer
  • plants
  • plasma membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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