Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Oscillations of ectoplasmic contraction in plasmodia of the myxomycetePhysarum polycephalum growing on agar containing semidefined medium were studied to determine if the contractile force is altered during the synchronous mitosis. In interphase the regular oscillations of contraction in the plasmodial sheet had an average period of 0.93 minutes in plasmodia growing at 24 °C. During mitosis the amplitude of these oscillations gradually decreased, ceasing for an average time of 2.7 minutes in 74% of the 23 plasmodia studied. Cessation of oscillating contractions in mitosis was accompanied by a decrease in the width of the channels embedded in the plasmodial sheet, and a decrease in the velocity of endoplasmic shuttle streaming usually to a complete standstill. Of 13 plasmodia in which the mitotic stage was very accurately determined, the stop in oscillating contractions occurred during metaphase in 10 plasmodia, and in prometaphase, anaphase, telophase in the 3 others. The cessation of contractile oscillations or of streaming did not occur absolutely simultaneously during mitosis in widely separated locations within one plasmodium, indicating mitotic asynchrony over a period of a few minutes within each plasmodium. We suggest that the halt of plasmodial migration during mitosis reported by others is caused by a decrease or cessation at slightly different times in the amplitude of ectoplasmic contractile oscillations in different areas of a plasmodium in mitosis resulting in an overall lack of coordination of endoplasmic flow throughout the plasmodium, thus temporarily halting migration. Possible physiological mechanisms linking a decrease in actomyosin contraction with the metaphase stage of mitosis are discussed.
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