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BY-NC-ND 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter June 2, 2014

Rotation of Cells in an Alternating Electric Field: the Occurrence of a Resonance Frequency

  • U. Zimmermann , J. Vienken and G. Pilwat


Cells suspended in a low-conducting medium were exposed to an alternating electric field whose frequency was altered between 1 kHz and 2 MHz. A resonance frequency was observed at which all suspended cells rotated about an axis normal to the field lines (when the electric field strength was larger than a threshold value of about 400 V/cm). This resonance frequency varied from species to species of cells (mesophyll protoplasts of Avena sativa = 20-40 kHz, human erythrocytes and ghost cells = 80-100 kHz, yeast cells = 140-180 kHz, Friend cells = 30-40 kHz, at room temperature).

The resonance frequency of cell rotation was observed only under specific experimental conditions which excluded interference by reversible electrical breakdown of cell membranes and by gravitational forces.

Glutardialdehyde fixed and heated cells exhibited no rotation in the frequency and field range investigated.

The phenomenon of rotation is discussed in terms of dipole orientation within the membrane.

Received: 1980-10-22
Published Online: 2014-6-2
Published in Print: 1981-2-1

© 1946 – 2014: Verlag der Zeitschrift für Naturforschung

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.

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