Original Article


, Volume 251, Issue 1, pp 127-143

First online:

Meiosis-I in Mesostoma ehrenbergii spermatocytes includes distance segregation and inter-polar movements of univalents, and vigorous oscillations of bivalents

  • Jessica Ferraro-GideonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, York University
  • , Carina HoangAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, York University
  • , Arthur ForerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, York University Email author 

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In this article, we describe meiosis-I in spermatocytes of the free-living freshwater flatworm Mesostoma ehrenbergii. The original observations of Oakley (1983, 1985) and Fuge (Eur J Cell Biol 44:294–298, 1987, Cell Motil Cytoskeleton 13:212–220, 1989, Protoplasma 160:39–48, 1991), the first to describe these cells, challenge our understanding of cell division, and we have expanded on these descriptions with the aim of laying the framework for further experimental work. These cells contain three bivalents and four univalent chromosomes (two pairs). Bivalent kinetochores oscillate vigorously and regularly throughout prometaphase, for up to several hours, until anaphase. Anaphase onset usually begins in the middle of the kinetochore oscillation cycle. Precocious cleavage furrows form at the start of prometaphase, ingress and then remain arrested until the end of anaphase. The four univalents do not pair, yet by anaphase there is one of each kind at each pole, an example of “distance segregation” (Hughes-Schrader in Chromosoma 27:109–129, 1969). Until proper segregation is achieved, univalents move between spindle poles up to seven times in an individual cell; they move with velocities averaging 9 μm/min, which is faster than the oscillatory motions of the bivalent kinetochores (5–6 μm/min), and much faster than the anaphase movements of the segregating half-bivalents (1 μm/min). Bipolar bivalents periodically reorient, most often resulting in the partner kinetochores exchanging poles. We suggest that the large numbers of inter-polar movements of univalents, and the reorientations of bivalents that lead to partners exchanging poles, might be because there is non-random segregation of chromosomes, as in some other cell types.


Chromosome oscillations Non-random segregation Distance segregation Precocious cleavage furrow