Rhodamine-phalloidin or FITC-phalloidin has been injected in small amounts into living, developing cells of Micrasterias denticulata and the stained microfilaments visualized by confocal laser scanning microscopy. The results reveal that two different actin filament systems are present in a growing cell: a cortical actin network that covers the inner surface of the cell and is extended far into the tips of the lobes in both the growing and the nongrowing semicell; it is also associated with the surface of the chloroplast. The second actin system ensheathes the nucleus at the isthmus-facing side during nuclear migration. Its arrangement corresponds to that of the microtubule system that has been described in earlier electron microscopic investigations. The spatial correspondence between the distribution of actin filaments and microtubules suggests a cooperation between both cytoskeleton elements in generating the motive force for nuclear migration. The function of the cortical actin network is not yet clear. It may be involved in processes like transport and fusion of secretory vesicles and may also function in shaping and anchoring the chloroplast.

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