1. The structure of the smooth muscle fibres in the longitudinal muscle coat of the body wall of Lumbricus terrestris has been investigated by phase contrast light microscopy and electron microscopy.

2. The muscle fibre is ribbon-shaped, and attached to each of its two surfaces is a set of myofibrils. These are also ribbon-shaped, and they lie with their surfaces perpendicular to the surfaces of the fibre, and their inner edges nearly meeting in the middle of the fibre. These fibrils are oriented at an angle to the fibre axis, and diminish greatly in width as they approach the edge of the fibre. The orientation of the set of fibrils belonging to one surface of the fibre is the mirror image of that of the set belonging to the other surface; thus, when both sets are in view in a fibre lying flat on one face, the fibre exhibits double oblique striation. A comparison of extended and contracted fibres indicates that as the fibre contracts, the angle made between fibre and fibril axes increases (e.g. from 5 to 30°) and so does the angle made between the two sets of fibrils (e.g. from 10 to 60°).

3. The myofibril, throughout its length, contains irregularly packed filaments, commonly 250 A in diameter, which are parallel to its long axis and remain straight in contracted muscles. Between them is material which probably consists of much finer filaments. Thus A and I bands are absent.

4. Bound to one face of each fibril, but not penetrating inside it, is a regularly spaced series of transverse stripes. They are of two kinds, alternating along the length of the fibril, and it is suggested that they are comparable to the Z and M lines of a cross-striated fibril. The spacing of these stripes is about 0.5 µ ("Z" to "Z") in extended muscles, and 0.25 µ in contracted muscles. A bridge extends from each stripe across to the stripeless surface of the next fibril.

This content is only available as a PDF.