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J Plant Physiol. 1999 Sep;155(3):338-43.

Physical characterization of gravitaxis in Euglena gracilis.

Author information

1
Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat, Institut fur Botanik und Pharmazeutische Biologie, Erlangen.

Abstract

Gravitaxis in unicellular microorganisms like Euglena gracilis has been known for more than 100 years. The current model explains this phenomenon on the basis of a specific density difference between cell body and surrounding medium. In order to test the feasibility of the current model in terms of physical considerations the specific density of different Euglena gracilis cultures was determined. Depending on the culture conditions the specific density was in a range between 1.046 g mL-1 and 1.054 g mL-1. Size and gravitaxis measurements were performed in parallel, which allowed to relate the force applied to the lower membrane to the kinetic properties of gravitactic reorientation. A linear relationship between force and gravitaxis kinetics was found. A comparison between estimated activation energy of the proposed stretch-sensitive ion channels and energy supplied by the displacement of the lower membrane by the sedimentation of the cell body revealed that a focusing, an amplification and/or an integration period over time must be involved in the gravitactic signal transduction chain. Analysis of stimulus-response curves revealed an integration period of about 5 seconds before a gravitactic reorientation starts. The kinetics of gravitaxis at 1 x gn, and 0.12 x gn, was found to be similar. A hypothesis is presented that explains this finding on the basis of a combination of an integration period and an all-or-none reaction during gravitactic reorientation.

PMID:
11542915
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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