Earlier studies on the effects of the herbicide isopropyl N-phenylcarbamate (IPC) on mitosis revealed blocked metaphases, multinucleate cells, giant nuclei and an increase in number of partly contracted chromosomes. It was assumed that IPC, like colchicine, was causing these effects by disruption of the spindle apparatus by destroying the spindle microtubules. The animal hormone melatonin causes an increase in birefringence of the mitotic spindle in animal cells, presumably by increasing the number of microtubules. We have studied the effects of IPC, melatonin, and combinations of the two on mitosis in dividing endosperm cells of the African blood lily (Haemanthus katherinae Baker) in vivo by phase-contrast and polarization microscopy. Both qualitative and quantitative data are presented. Interpretation of these results has been aided materially by a time-lapse cinemicrographic analysis of dividing cells subjected to 1 and 10 p.p.m. IPC (unpublished) and by an accompanying fine-structural analysis of untreated and IPC-treated cells. Mitosis was disrupted by 0.01-10 p.p.m. IPC, the severity of the effect depending on both concentration and stage of mitosis of the cell at the time of treatment. Concentrations of IPC that caused cessation of chromosome movement also caused loss of birefringence of the mitotic spindle. Melatonin increased birefringence of the mitotic spindle in these plant cells and partly nullified the adverse effects of IPC. The results of this study demonstrate that the herbicide IPC, under our conditions, causes disruption of mitosis and loss of birefringence of the spindle. And it has been established that an animal hormone is capable of increasing the birefringence, and presumably the number of microtubules, of the mitotic spindle in dividing endosperm cells of a higher plant. Although melatonin is capable of partly nullifying the effects of IPC, a competitive antagonism is not postulated.

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