Biological Buffers: The Key to Successful Experiments

Choosing the right biological buffers for your experiments can be a quite challenging task. With so many options available (Hepes, Mops, Tris, Bis-Tris, and so on), researchers often find themselves perplexed. However, this should not hinder the progress of scientific endeavors. To assist you in tackling these challenges, Hopax has prepared a concise list to remind you of some important factors to consider when selecting buffer salts.

Firstly, pay attention to the buffering range of the buffer. Each buffer has a pH range in which its buffering capacity is most effective, which is typically determined by the buffer's pKa value. Therefore, choosing a pKa value close to the midpoint of your desired pH range is crucial, and it is recommended that the pKa value should not differ by more than one unit from the target pH.

Secondly, consider pH changes during the experiment. Anticipate potential fluctuations in pH during the course of your experiment and choose an appropriate buffer accordingly. If you expect the pH to increase, it is advisable to select a buffer with a slightly higher pKa value than the target pH at the beginning of the experiment. Conversely, if you expect the pH to decrease, opt for a buffer with a lower pKa value.

Additionally, do not overlook the buffer concentration. Proper concentration is vital to ensure adequate buffering capacity in the experimental system. Too low a concentration can result in pH instability, while too high a concentration may affect experimental outcomes. Generally, it is recommended to use buffer concentrations higher than 25 mM.

Different experimental systems may involve varying hydrogen proton exchanges, hence the need to choose the appropriate buffer concentration. For systems not involving active hydrogen proton exchange, a concentration of 25-100mM is recommended. On the other hand, for systems with proton exchange, a buffer concentration 20 times higher than the proton molarity is advised.

Lastly, take note of temperature changes during the experiment. Temperature directly affects the pKa value of the buffer, thereby influencing the pH and buffering capacity of the system. This becomes critical in biological experiments that require precise hydrogen ion concentration for optimal reaction efficiency. Different buffers exhibit different sensitivity to temperature changes, thus it is important to consider temperature factors when selecting a buffer.


Extending the Topic: Application Scope and Special Uses of Buffers

In addition to the above points, let's further explore the application scope and special uses of buffers. Different buffers may exhibit varying effects under specific conditions, making it essential to choose the most suitable buffer for particular experimental needs.


1、Cell Culture
In cell culture, buffers play a crucial role in maintaining stable pH conditions in the culture medium. Common biological buffers like Hepes and Mops are effective in maintaining cell growth environment within physiological pH range. Additionally, Tris buffer is commonly used in steps such as cell lysis and protein extraction.


2、Protein Research
Buffers are vital in preserving the tertiary structure and activity of proteins. Tris buffer is often used in electrophoresis experiments, while Hepes buffer is preferred in protein crystallization experiments due to its superior buffering capacity under neutral conditions.


3、Enzymatic Reactions
Certain buffers can regulate the rate and specificity of enzymatic reactions. For instance, Tris buffer is used in enzymatic activity assays under acidic and neutral conditions, while Hepes buffer is suitable for alkaline environments.


4、Bacterial and Eukaryotic Cell Research 
For research involving bacteria and eukaryotic cells, Mops buffer is commonly used to maintain their pH values as it can remain stable within the physiological pH range.


5、Oxalate Ion Staining
Oxalate buffer is used in cell staining and tissue sectioning, as it provides stable acidic conditions.


When conducting specialized research, careful consideration of the properties and applications of different buffers is essential to ensure the selection of the most suitable buffer for achieving optimal results.


As a manufacturer of biological buffers, Hopax Fine Chemicals not only offers commonly used buffers but also provides customized solutions to meet specific customer requirements. With our high-quality products and excellent customer service, we are globally recognized and dedicated to providing the best support and success assurance for your research.

Release date:2023.08.02