The formation of immiscible liquid phases or coacervates is a phenomenon widely observed in biology. Marine organisms, for instance, use liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) as the precursor phase to form various fibrillar or crustaceous materials that are essential for surface adhesion. More recently, the importance of LLPS has been realized in the compartmentalization of living cells and in obtaining ordered but dynamic partitions that can be reversed according to necessity. Here, we compare the properties, features, and peculiarities of intracellular and extracellular coacervates, drawing parallels and learning from the differences. A more general view of the phenomenon may in the future inform new studies to allow a better comprehension of its laws.
- cellular compartmentalization
- liquid–liquid phase transition
- marine organisms
- membraneless particles