To understand the organization of fibers in an agarose gel, digitized electron micrographs are used here to determine the frequency distribution of interfiber distance (2Pc) in thin sections of agarose gels. For a preparation of underivatized agarose, a 1.5% gel has a Pc distribution that is indistinguishable from the Pc distribution of a computer-generated, random-fiber gel; the log of the occurrence frequency (F) decreases linearly as a function of Pc. As the agarose concentration decreases below 1.5%, the semilogarithmic F versus Pc plot becomes progressively less linear. Two straight lines represent the data; the plot is steeper at the lower Pc values. As the percentage of agarose increases above 1.5%, the semilogarithmic F versus Pc plot becomes steeper at the higher Pc values. This change in the shape of semilogarithmic F versus Pc plots is possibly explained by the existence in agarose gels of two zones, one whose Pc distribution is more sensitive to the average agarose concentration than the other. To compare the structure of agarose gels to their sieving during electrophoresis, the root mean square value of Pc (Pc) is compared to the sieving-based radius of the effective pore (PE; Griess et. al. (16)) for both underivatized agarose and a derivatized agarose that has a smaller PE at any given agarose percentage. For 0.8–2.0% gels of either underivatized or derivatized agarose, PE/Pc is a constant within experimental error. Deviations from this constant are observed at lower gel percentages. This relationship of PE to Pc constrains theoretical descriptions of the motion of spheres in fibrous networks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas