Catanionic Coacervate Droplets as a Surfactant-Based Membrane-Free Protocell Model

Jean Paul Douliez*, Nicolas Martin, Cédric Gaillard, Thomas Beneyton, Jean Christophe Baret, Stephen Mann, Laure Beven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

31 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the formation of surfactant-based complex catanionic coacervate droplets in mixtures of decanoic acid and cetylpyridinium chloride or cetyltrimethylammonium bromide. We show that coacervation occurs over a broad range of composition, pH, and ionic strength. The catanionic coacervates consist of elongated micelles, sequester a wide range of solutes including water-soluble organic dyes, polysaccharides, proteins, enzymes, and DNA, and can be structurally stabilized by sodium alginate or gelatin-based hydrogelation. These results suggest that catanionic coacervates could be exploited as a novel surfactant-based membrane-free protocell model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13689-13693
Number of pages5
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number44
Early online date2 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2017


  • catanionics
  • coacervates
  • microreactors
  • protein crowding
  • sequestration

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