SUMMARY: The effect of three food preservatives, sorbic acid and methyl and butyl esters of -hydroxybenzoic acid, on the protonmotive force in membrane vesicles was investigated. Radioactive chemical probes were used to determine the two components of the protonmotive force: ΔpH (pH difference) and Δψ (membrane potential). Both types of compound selectively eliminated ΔpH across the membrane, while leaving Δψ much less disturbed indicating that transport inhibition by neutralization of the protonmotive force cannot be the only mechanism of action for the food preservatives tested.


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