Assulina muscorum secretes morphologically altered shells when cultured in a medium with 5 mM caffeine. The siliceous scales, normally distributed in a regular overlapping pattern, are disorganized, thicker and wider than normal, and occasionally have incompletely silicified surfaces that appear irregular in profile in transmission electron microscopic ultrathin sections. The shape of the silica deposition vesicles (SDVs) in the cytoplasm is altered and they are less regularly arranged. The swollen appearances of the SDVs, and of nearby Golgi tubules, give additional evidence that caffeine affects the fine structural morphology of membranous secretory organelles and can disrupt their normal depositional activity. In addition to the greater thickness and width of the siliceous scales in caffeine-treated cells, the length and width of the shell are larger compared to controls, but the aspect ratio (length/width) is smaller. The latter is attributed to a larger increase in width relative to the increase in length of the caffeine-treated cells. Since some of the scales are deposited with the long axis laterally on the shell surface, in addition to being greater in width, this raises the interesting question of whether the morphology of the SDVs and the siliceous products influences the size and morphogenesis of the shell. Further research is needed to clarify the interaction of the SDVs with the cytoplasmic cytoskeletal system during shell morphogenesis. (C) 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Rv095Times Cited:1Cited References Count:38