Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/583

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
573
ADDRESS BEFORE THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION.

The pole at each end of the spindle lies in the cell plasm which surrounds the nucleus. In the center of each pole is a somewhat opaque spot (central body) surrounded by a clear space, which, along with the spot, constitutes the centrosome of the sphere of attraction. From each centrosome extremely delicate lines may be seen to radiate in two directions. One set extends towards the pole at the opposite end of the spindle, and, meeting or coming into close proximity with radiations from it, constitutes the body of the spindle, which, like a perforated mantle, forms an imperfect envelope around the nucleus during the process of division. The other set of radiations is called the polar and extends in the region of the pole towards the periphery of the cell.

The question has been much discussed whether any constituent part of the achromatic figure, or the entire figure, exists in the cell as a permanent structure in its resting phase; or if it is only present during the process of karyokinesis. During the development of the egg the formation of young cells, by division of the segmentation nucleus, is so rapid and continuous that the achromatic figure, with the centrosome in the pole of the spindle, is a readily recognizable object in each cell. The polar and spindle-like radiations are in evidence during karyokinesis, and have apparently a temporary endurance and function. On the other hand, van Beneden and Boveri were of opinion that the central body of the centrosome did not disappear when the division of the nucleus came to an end, but that it remained as a constituent part of a cell lying in the cell plasm, near to the nucleus. Flemming has seen the central body with its sphere in leucocytes, as well as in epithelial cells and those of other tissues. Subsequently Heidenhain and other histologists have recorded similar observations. It would seem, therefore, as if there were reason to regard the centrosome, like the nucleus, as a permanent constituent of a cell. This view, however, is not universally entertained. If not always capable of demonstration in the resting stage of a cell, it is doubtless to be regarded as potentially present, and ready to assume, along with the radiations, a characteristic appearance when the process of nuclear division is about to begin.

One can scarcely regard the presence of so remarkable an appearance as the achromatic figure without associating with it an important function in the economy of the cell. As from the centrosome at the pole of the spindle both sets of radiations diverge, it is not unlikely that it acts as a center or sphere of energy and attraction. By some observers the radiations are regarded as substantive fibrillar structures, elastic or even contractile in their properties. Others, again, look upon them as morphological expressions of chemical and dynamical energy in the protoplasm of the cell body. On either theory we may assume that they indicate an influence, emanating, it may be, from the centrosome and capable of being exercised both on the cell plasm and on the