In the last years of the 19th century Overton did experimental work, allowing the distinction to be drawn between the cell wall of plants and their cytoplasmic membrane. He studied the permeability of a range of biological materials to around 500 chemical compounds. In 1900, Overton proposed a biomembrane model "Overton Biomembrane Model" which stated that biomembranes are made up of lipids. He gave this statement on the basis of observation of transport of lipid soluble substances across the biomembranes.
- Membrane Permeability: 100 Years Since Ernest Overton: 100 Years Since Ernest Overton. Academic Press. 21 May 1999. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-08-058519-2.
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- Randy O. Wayne (15 September 2009). Plant Cell Biology: From Astronomy to Zoology. Academic Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-08-092127-3.
- Larsson, Lisbeth, "Hedvig Louise Beata Petrén-Overton", Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon [Biographical Dictionary of Swedish Women] (in Swedish), retrieved 2019-01-13
- Haikola, Lars (2006), "Louise Petrén-Overton, my grandmother", Archives of ALGA, 3: 8–9