Sixty Years Research with Characean Cells: Fascinating Material for Plant Cell Biology

Part of the Progress in Botany book series (BOTANY, volume 72)


My nearly 60-year long and deeply rewarding research life can be divided into three periods, the first between 1952 and 1977 at Osaka University, the second between 1977 and 1990 at the University of Tokyo, and the third between 1990 and 2002 at the Fukui University of Technology. Throughout my research life, my main experimental material has been the internodal cells of the characean algae, Nitella, Chara, Nitellopsis, as well as the internodal cells of the brackish genus Lamprothamnium. The characean internodal cell is a giant cylindrical cell that is typically 50–100 mm in length and 0.5–1.0 mm in diameter (cf. my picture). The cell is characterized by a very active rotational cytoplasmic streaming with an unusually high speed amounting to 50–70 μm s−1 at 25°C as well as an exceptionally large action potential (150 mV), which can be generated by electrical, mechanical, and chemical stimuli. Due to these activities, the characean cell is often referred to the “green muscle” or the “green axon.”



I would like to express my cordial thanks to my coworkers cited above. A wide variety of productive researches mentioned above could surely not have been achieved without their cooperation.

My thanks are also due to Professor Ulrich Lüttge, the Editor of “Progress in Botany,” for his invitation to this review article, and Professor Randy Wayne, one of my former coworkers and now in the Department of Plant Physiology, Cornell University, for his kindness to read my manuscript and to give valuable suggestions in polishing the style of my English.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of TokyoOtsuJapan

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