The adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content of pea root tips is about 0.40 mmole/kg fresh weight. The effects of partial and complete anaerobiosis, and of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, on the ATP level are described. The ATP content was shown to correspond closely to the oxygen uptake under these conditions. However, there was no relation between the ATP level and the rate of mitosis, a situation which is in contrast with that in sea urchin eggs. In anaerobic conditions, mitoses in pea root tips could continue at a reduced rate, even though the ATP content had fallen to 1.5 per cent of the normal value in air The ATP level in anaerobic conditions corresponded closely to the expected rate of ATP regeneration from known anaerobic sources of energy. Calculations show that even this severely restricted supply of energy would be more than adequate to drive the anaphase chromosome movements, so it is suggested that the concept of a mitotic energy reservoir is superfluous in root tips. No evidence could be found for the involvement during mitosis in sea urchin eggs of a non-respiratory ferrous complex such as occurs in pea root tips. Hence the dilemma remains, that whereas mitoses in both sea urchin eggs and pea root tips are arrested by respiratory inhibitors, yet the biochemical mechanisms of the arrest in the two types of cell are totally distinct.

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