Dunaliella salina cells rapidly diluted from their normal 1.71 M NaCl-containing growth medium into medium containing 0.86 M NaCl swelled within 2--4 min to an average volume 1.76 X larger and a surface area 1.53 X larger than found in control cells. Morphometric analysis of thin section electron micrographs revealed that certain organelles, including the chloroplast, nucleus, and some types of vacuoles, also expanded in surface area as much or more than did the entire cell. It is likely that glycerol, the most important osmotically active intracellular solute, was present in high concentration within these organelles as well as in the cytoplasm itself. Thin section and freeze-fracture electron microscopy were utilized to trace the origin of membrane material whose addition permitted the large increase in plasma membrane surface area and the equally large growth of the chloroplast outer envelope. The findings indicated that the plasma membrane's expansion resulted from its selective fusion with numerous small (less than or equal to 0.25 micron diam) vesicles prevalent throughout the cytoplasm. In contrast, new membrane added to the chloroplast outer envelope was drawn from an entirely different source, namely, elements of the endoplasmic reticulum.

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