, Volume 155, Issue 1-3, pp 144-152

Breakdown of cytoplasmic vacuoles

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Plant cells possess an extensive motile vacuolar system (MVS) easily observed with dark field, Nomarski or phase contrast optics. The elements of the MVS are long cylindrical vacuoles, 1–6 μm in diameter, but are transformed into spherical vesicle upon fixation with non-coagulant fixatives (e.g., glutaraldehyde). A mathematical model is developed to describe the vesiculation event, taking into account osmotic properties of the fixing solution. A computer simulation is prepared, using the model equations, to examine response of vesicle radius and number under weak to strong osmotic conditions. Vesicle radius is strictly dependent upon initial vacuolar radius, while vesicle number is found to depend upon initial vacuole length as well as radius. However, vesicle number is more dependent upon initial vacuolar radius as osmotic influences increase. The model points out important basic properties of membrane cylinders and spheres that can be scaled up or down to include similar structures at various magnitudes.