Cells with polyploid nuclei are generally larger than cells of the same organism or species with nonpolyploid nuclei. However, no such change of cell size with ploidy level is observed in those red algae which alternate isomorphic haploid with diploid generations. The results of this investigation reveal the explanation. Nuclear DNA content and other parameters were measured in cells of the filamentous red alga Griffithsia pacifica. Nuclei of the diploid generation contain twice the DNA content of those of the haploid generation. However, all cells except newly formed reproductive cells are multinucleate. The nuclei are arranged in a nearly perfect hexagonal array just beneath the cell surface. When homologous cells of the two generations are compared, although the cell size is nearly identical, each nucleus of the diploid cell is surrounded by a region of cytoplasm (a "domain") nearly twice that surrounding a haploid nucleus. Cytoplasmic domains associated with a diploid nucleus contain twice the number of plastids, and consequently twice the amount of plastid DNA, than is associated with the domain of a haploid nucleus. Thus, doubling of ploidy is reflected in doubling of the size and organelle content of the domain associated with each nucleus. However, cell size does not differ between homologous cells of the two generations, because total nuclear DNA (sum of the DNA in all nuclei in a cell) per cell does not differ. This is the solution to the cytological paradox of isomorphy.

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