A study of cytokinesis in the heliozoan Actinophrys sol has been made using low-temperature treatments, antimitotic drugs, cytochalasin B, light microscopy and electron microscopy. It reveals that microtubular axopodia remain extended during cell division and play a major role in it.

Data indicate that when organisms are attached to the bases of culture dishes the normal locomotive mechanism of the presumptive daughter cells pulls them apart. However, when Actinophrys are floating freely in their culture medium, they are still able to undertake division. In this situation interactions between axopodia from opposite daughter cell bodies appear to facilitate the movement apart of the prospective daughter cells.

The present study and other published accounts indicate that a type of cytokinesis exists which is not explicable in terms of the ‘contractile ring’ or ‘fusing vesicle’ theories. To account for these observations a ‘barge pole’ model of division is suggested.

Address to which reprint requests should be sent: Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, England.