Membranes as sites of energy transduction
Because membranes are impermeable to most solutes, gradients can be established and maintained between intra- and extracellular compartments. These gradients serve as forms of energy storage that can be used for thermodynamic work. Ion gradients also establish electrical gradients across membranes that serve as resistors and capacitors. Under these circumstances, the membranes are also sites of energy transduction where chemical gradients are transformed into electrical gradients. The energy stored across membranes can be used to transport solutes against their gradients, produce ATP, regulate pH, and produce action potentials. Examples are provided from mitochondrial function, intestinal nutrient uptake, and the uptake of dissolved organic matter in marine invertebrate larvae.
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