, Volume 188, Issue 1–2, pp 38–48 | Cite as

Detection of gravity-induced polarity of cytoplasmic streaming inChara

  • M. P. Staves
  • R. Wayne
  • A. C. Leopold


Gravity induces a polarity of cytoplasmic streaming in vertically-oriented internodal cells of characean algae. The motive force that powers cytoplasmic streaming is generated at the ectoplasmic/endoplasmic interface. The velocity of streaming, which is about 100 μm/s at this interface, decreases with distance from the interface on either side of the cell to 0 μm/s near the middle. Therefore, when discussing streaming velocity it is necessary to specify the tangential plane through the cell in which streaming is being measured. This is easily done with a moderate resolution light microscope (which has a lateral resolution of 0.6 μm and a depth of field of 1.4 μm), but is obscured when using any low resolution technique, such as low magnification light microscopy or laser Doppler spectroscopy. In addition, the effect of gravity on the polarity of cytoplasmic streaming declines with increasing physiological age of isolated cells. Using a classical mechanical analysis, we show that the effect of gravity on the polarity of cytoplasmic streaming cannot result from the effect of gravity acting directly on individual cytoplasmic particles. We suggest that gravity may best be perceived by the entire cell at the plasma membrane-extracellular matrix junction.


Chara Cytoplasmic streaming Gravity Vacuolar streaming 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Staves
    • 1
  • R. Wayne
    • 1
  • A. C. Leopold
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Section of Plant BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Boyce Thompson InstituteCornell UniversityIthaca

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