A method was elaborated by which the pH in leaf apoplast can be measured. The technique is based on the pH dependent fluorescence of 5-carboxyfluorescein (5-CF) or fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC). The fluorescein isothiocyanate is coupled with a macromolecular dextran molecule (FITC-dextran). For eliminating the effect of the absolute dye concentration the dual excitation technique was applied. It was shown that the ratio of fluorescence excited by light of 491 nm and 463 nm was virtually independent of the concentration of 5-CF and that this fluorescence ratio was related to the pH. The plasmalemma is practically impermeable to FITC-dextran and in the test we carried out over a period of 6 h not the slightest indication was found that it may penetrate the plasma membrane. For 5-CF this cannot be ruled out completely. It is possible that at pH values below 4.5 it may penetrate biological membranes at low rates.
Experiments with leaves of sunflower (Helianthus animus cv. Erika) perfused with 5-carboxyfluorescein and supplied with different nitrogen forms showed that NH+4 application resulted in a decrease and NO+3 application in an increase of the leaf apoplast pH. Leaf spraying with fasicoccin was followed by a pH decrease, while leaf spraying with the protonophores p-trifluoromethoxy carbonytcyanide phenylhydra-zon (FCCP) or nigericin resulted in neutral apoplastic pH. These results provide evidence that the method is well suited for measuring the response of the leaf apoplast pH to changing physiological conditions.