Evidence is presented to show that a given change in cell form or size may generally be brought about by a variety of patterns of local surface distortion and expansion. Structural and chemical features of the cell which are important in morphogenesis may thus be expected to relate not to form per se but to the kinetics of surface behavior which establish form. These kinetics evaluate both the rate at which local regions of cell surface expand and the directed character (anisotropy) of this expansion. These variables have been studied in model systems and, through marking experiments, in growing cells of various shapes in Phycomyces, Clypeaster, and particularly Nitella. In the latter plant, prominent "giant internodes" display a well defined longitudinal anisotropic expansion devoid of sizeable gradients in expansion rate. These cells have their origin, however, in apical cells which have a pronounced gradient in area expansion rate (maximal at the tip). The great part of the expansion in the apical cell is apparently isotropic (equal in all directions), but the basal region often shows predominant expansion laterally. This transverse stretching in the apical cell could align cell wall texture and possibly fibrous cytoplasmic constituents, such as microtubules, into configurations significant in later morphogenetic stages, including the elongation of the internodes.

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