What Factors are Affecting on Electrophoresis Methods

Electrophoresis is one of the important tool in Diagnostic labs, Pharma labs, Forensic labs and many more labs. First of all we should know What is Electrophoresis? Electrophoresis is the motion of dispersed particles relative to a fluid under the influence of a spatially uniform electric field.

This electro-kinetic phenomenon was observed for the first time in 1807 by Ferdinand Frederic Reuss (Moscow State University), who noticed that the application of a constant electric field caused clay particles dispersed in water to migrate. This method was developed by “Arne.W.K.Tiselius” in 1937

Electrophoresis factors

It is ultimately caused by the presence of a charged interface between the particle surface and the surrounding fluid.

Factors affecting on Electrophoresis:

The rate of migration (Separation of particles) during electrophoresis will depend on the following factors:

1.  The Sample
2.  The Electric Field
3.  The Medium
4.  The Buffer

1. The Sample:
Charge/mass  ratio  of  the  sample  dictates  its  electrophoretic  mobility.  The  mass  consists  of  not
only the size (molecular weight) but also the shape of the molecule. 

a) Charge: The  higher  the  charge,  greater  is  the  electrophoretic  mobility.  The  charge  is  dependent  on  pH  of  the medium. 
b) Size: The bigger molecules have a small electrophoretic mobility compared to the smaller particles. 
c) Shape: The globular protein will migrate faster than the fibrous protein

2. The Electric Field:
The rate of migration under unit potential gradient is referred to as “Mobility of the ion”.  An increase in potential gradient increases the rate of migration.
3. The Medium:
The  inert  medium  can  exert  adsorption  &  molecular  sieving  effects  on  the  particle,  influencing  its  rate  of migration. 

a) Adsorption: It  means  retention  of  a  component  on  the  surface  of  supporting  medium.  The  rate  and resolution of the electrophoretic separation can be efficiently reduced by adsorption.

b) Molecular sieving: Media  such  as  “Polyacrylamide”,  “Agar”,  “Starch”  & “Sephadex”  have  cross-linked structures giving rise to pores within the gel beads.

  • Sephadex, molecules larger than the pores are excluded from entering the gel beads & these molecules migrate faster.  
  • Polyacrylamide,  Starch  &  Agarose  the  larger  molecules  also  are  made  to  squeeze through the pores. The smaller molecules pass through the pores easily, but the larger molecules are retarded.

4. The Buffer: The buffer can affect the electrophoretic mobility of the sample in various ways.
A) Composition:  Commonly  used  buffers  are  “Formate”,    “Acetate”,  “Citrate”,  “  Phospahate”,  “EDTA”
“Acetate”  “Pyridine”,  “Tris”  (2-amino,  2-hydroxymethyl,  1,3-diol  pentane)  and “Barbitone
”  etc.   

The  choice  of  buffer  depends  upon  the  type  of  sample  being electrophoresed. 
b) Ionic Strength: “Ionic Strength (I) is a measure of the electrical environment of ions in a sol”.  When increase ionic strength of the buffer means a larger share of the current being carried by the buffer ions & meager (small quantity) proportion carried by the sample ions.

When decrease ionic strength, a larger share of the current being carried by the sample ions leading to a faster separation.

Note: The ionic strength used is usually between 0.05 to 0.1M.

c) pH:
  The pH determines the degree of ionization of organic compounds; it can also affect the rate of migration of these compounds. When increase pH, increases ionization of organic acids. Decrease in pH, increases ionization of organic bases. E.g.: an Ampholyte (Amino acid) - The amino acid has both acidic & basic properties

Read More: Chromatography, types, Principle and Applications. Red rose


  1. awesome notes on electrophoresis..

  2. Electrophoresis is considered as very crucial technique in molecular biology lab. It is useful for mapping the order of constraint fragments found in chromosome, for analyzing DNA variation and for determining the nucleotide sequence of DNA’s pieces. It refers to the relocation of a charged molecule via gel drawn by a force of electricity.