Membranes in cell-wall-free dividing endosperm cells of Haemanthus were examined after postfixation with osmium tetroxide-potassium ferrocyanide. We found that preservation and staining of membranes in metaphase cells was highly variable. Even adjacent cells often showed different degrees of preservation of membrane. However, this method does reveal a much more extensive membrane system in the mitotic spindle of Haemanthus than has been revealed previously using glutaraldehyde-osmium fixation. At prometaphase a system of membranes becomes associated with the kinetochore bundles. By metaphase, membranes constitute a prominent feature of kinetochore bundles, terminating near the kinetichores. Minipoles, identified by converging microtubules and associated membranes, are distributed in a zone extending laterally across the polar regions of the cell. The microtubules appear to terminate at the minipoles, whereas the membrane system becomes oriented generally perpendicular to the spindle axis and interfaces distally with a region of amorphous electron-dense material, helical polyribosomes, and cell organelles. The role of this extensive membrane system, if any, in chromosome movement is unknown. However, its distribution is coincident with the distribution of calcium-rich membranes and kinetochore fibers at metaphase in these cells (Wolniak, S. M., P. K. Hepler, and W. T. Jackson, 1981, Eur. J. Cell Biol., 25:171-174). Thus, these membranes may function in creating calcium domains that, in turn, may play a regulatory role in chromosome movement.

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