The cytoplasmic organization of a normal green strain of the alga Chlamydomonas reinhardi has been investigated with the electron microscope using thin sections of OsO4 fixed material.
The detailed organization of the chloroplast has been of special interest. The chloroplast, a cup-shaped organelle, surrounded by a double membrane, consists of: (1) discs about 1 micron in diameter, considered to represent the basic structural unit of the chloroplast, and each composed of a pair of membranes joined at their ends to form a flat closed vesicle; the discs are grouped into stacks resembling the grana of higher plants; (2) matrix material of low density in which the discs are embedded; (3) starch grains; (4) the pyrenoid, a non-lamellar region associated with starch synthesis, and containing tubules which connect with the lamellae; (5) the eyespot, a differentiated region containing two or three plates of hexagonally packed, carotenoid-containing granules, located between discs, and associated with phototaxis.
In addition to the chloroplast, the cytoplasm contains various membranous and granular components, including mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and dictyosomes, identified on the basis of morphological comparability with structures seen in animal cells. The nucleus, not investigated in detail in this study, contains a large, granular nucleolus and is surrounded by a nuclear envelope which is provided with pores and exhibits instances of continuity with the endoplasmic reticulum of the cytoplasm.