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Name: Raya
Status: Student
Grade:  12+
Location: VT
Country: United States
Date: Fall 2010

Do hydrophilic dyes exist? For example, if one were to try to dye a phospholipid bilayer, can it be done?

Food coloring dyes are all water soluble, hence very hydrophilic. I don't know whether they will accomplish what you want to do, however.

Vince Calder

Hi Raya,

There are lots of hydrophilic dyes, and there are lots of stains designed for cell-membrane visualization. Here's one example from

If you read the document, it discussed what makes an idea cell membrane stain. If you want to visualize the cell membrane, I'm not sure you would want a hydrophilic dye. The lipid bilayer, as you may know, is hydrophobic internally, and hydrophilic externally. To stain it, you can attach a dye to its surface (binding to proteins or sugars on the surface), or you can use a dye that has both hydrophobic and hydrophilic components (such as the referenced invitrogen stain).

Hope this helps,

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