Changes in free calcium concentration [( Ca]) have been detected during anaphase in stamen hair cells of Tradescantia. Cells have been injected iontophoretically with the calcium sensitive metallochromic dye arsenazo III and changes in differential absorbance have been measured using a spinning wheel microspectrophotometer. The results obtained on single cells progressing from midmetaphase through to cytokinesis show that the free [Ca] first begins in increase after the initial separation of the sister chromosomes marking the onset of anaphase. The increase continues for 10-15 min while the chromosomes move to the poles; thereafter the [Ca] declines with the cell plate appearing about the time that the ion returns to its basal level. The close temporal correlation firstly between the rise in [Ca] and the breakdown of spindle microtubules (MTs) during anaphase and secondly, between the subsequent fall in [Ca] and the emergence of the MT-containing phragmoplast provides evidence consistent with the idea that endogenous fluctuations in [Ca] control the disassembly/assembly of MTs during mitosis.

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