Lesson Media Objects
Cellular Absorption of Herbicides
Passive Absorption — Looking at Effects of Charge
There are two major groups of chemicals that are passively absorbed across biological membranes: 1) lipophilic, uncharged molecules and 2) lipophilic, charged molecules.
Lipophilic, uncharged herbicides
Lipophilic, uncharged (neutral) herbicide molecules such as monuron, norflurazon, oryzalin, and triazines, can passively diffuse into plant cells. The lipophilic nature of these herbicides allows them to diffuse rapidly across the lipid bilayer of plant membranes as driven by the concentration gradient between the external herbicide solution and the cell interior. Net movement stops when concentrations reach equilibrium between the external solution and the cell interior.
We know that uncharged, lipophilic herbicides cross membranes via passive diffusion based on experimental evidence which has shown:
Lipophilic, charged herbicides
Lipophilic, charged (ionic) molecules such as bentazon, 2,4-D, clopyralid, chlorsulfuron, imazapyr, and sethoxydim, are either weak acids or weak bases. In an aqueous solution, neutral weak acids (R-COOH, where R is the remainder of the molecule; also referred to as HA) are in equilibrium with their charged conjugate base (R-COO-; also referred to as an anion, A-) (equation 1). Neutral weak bases (R-NH2) are in equilibrium with their charged conjugate acid (R-NH3+) (equation 2). The relative concentrations of the hydrophobic, undissociated acid molecules (HA, also referred to as R-COOH) or the more polar anions (A-, also referred to as R-COO-) depend on the solution pH and the strength of the acid as described by the Henderson-Hasselbach equation (equation 3). The ability of these molecules to be either neutral or charged can greatly increase their rates of movement across plant membranes as well as their accumulation inside the cell.
Equations for the distribution of weak acids and bases in solution and its dependence on pH:
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