The effects of four concentrations of colchicine (2.5 x 10-7, x 10-5, x 10-3, and x 10-2 M) on the cell cycle of grasshopper neuroblasts have been determined by direct observations on living cells. The lowest concentration, 2.5 x 10-7 M, does not completely disorganize the spindle but does retard its action. The three higher concentrations disorganize the spindle, so that all cells reaching metaphase are blocked in a c-mitotic condition throughout the period of observations (308 min at 38°C, the minimum duration of the cell cycle in untreated neuroblasts). Continuous treatment with all concentrations reduces the rate at which neuroblasts enter metaphase, the extent of the reduction being a function of increasing concentration and time of exposure. After a short exposure to 2.5 x 10-5 M colchicine, the neuroblasts recover from the inhibiting effects on progression through the cycle to metaphase, but they show no recovery from the inhibiting effects on spindle formation for more than 3 hr. Apparent stimulation of progression rate occurs early in exposure to all concentrations and during recovery from a short exposure to 2.5 x 10-5 M. Morphological alterations in the chromatin of telophase, interphase, and prophase cells are induced by the higher concentrations of colchicine. The data indicate that caution should be exercised in the use of colchicine for determining cell cycle duration and/or the effects of physical and chemical agents on the cycle.

This content is only available as a PDF.