The freeze-etching technique, which is a special kind of freeze-drying, allows electron microscopic investigation of cells and tissues in the frozen state. In regard to yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) a freeze-fixation technique has been developed which does not kill the object. The electron micrographs therefore are considered to impart an image of high fidelity. The cutting of the frozen object, which actually consists of a fine splintering, produces not only cross-sectional views (cross-fractures) of the structures but also surface views of the membranes and organelles. Many surface structures are described which have not been shown by the usual sectioning techniques. The cytoplasmic membrane contains hexagonal arrangements of particles which are apparently involved in the production of the glucan fibrils of the cell wall. Alterations of the distribution of nuclear pores are shown in cells of different ages. Freeze-etching enables a clear distinction of endoplasmic reticulum and vacuoles in yeast cells. The membranes of the vesicular systems are covered by ribosomes arranged in circular patterns. The mitochondrial envelope shows small perforations which could allow the exchange of macromolecules. The storage granules consist of concentric layers of lipid, presumably phosphatide. A Golgi apparatus has been detected which may be involved in the storage of lipid. The structure of the unit membrane and the membrane structures of all organelles as revealed by chemical fixation are confirmed in principle. Glycogen agglomerations are identified in the ground plasm of older cells. Insight into artifacts introduced by common chemical fixation and embedding techniques is obtained and discussed.

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