Does the concentration of detergent affect plant growth?
There are at least three general classes of surfactants: anionic,
cationic, and non-ionic. Cell membranes may be looked upon as
anionic surfactant micelles with interesting things dissolved in and
through the bilayer (and with interesting micelle contents, too!).
The chemistry of each class of surfactants is complex, rich, and varied.
A detergent must reach its critical micelle concentration to exhibit its
full effects. Lower concentrations may still dissolve in cell membranes
and alter their function.
It is well known that cationic quaternary ammonium sufactants
("benzalkonium chloride") are powerful germicides. Nonionic surfactants
such as nonoxynol-9 are rather benign toward bulk mammalian tissue, but
disrupt single cells and viruses. Anionic detergents such as sodium
dodecyl sulfate are routinely used to denature DNA for electrophoresis.
Plant cells are encased in a rigid cell wall with a cell membrane
beneath it. Cell-cell communication is complex, as by the plasmodesmata.
As you can see, if you want a good answer, you must first ask a better
Alan "Uncle Al" Schwartz
"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" The Net!
(Uncle Al has been Officially convinced to "voluntarily" shut down his
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