The fine structure of the ciliate Stentor has been studied by means of the electron microscope and the results have been correlated with observations made on the living organism by means of light microscopy; special reference has been made to structural features which may be responsible for contraction and extension in Stentor.
Descriptions have been given of the structure of the macronucleus, the vacuolated cytoplasm, mitochondria and the pellicle; a detailed study has also been made of the adoral membranelles. About 250 membranelles encircle the peristomal cap and each is composed of 3 rows of cilia, with 20 to 25 cilia in each row; a fibrillar root system connected with the membranelles depends into the endoplasm for about 20 µ and each is essentially in the shape of a fan, the terminal ends of each root bifurcating to connect to neighbouring roots. The membranelles thus form a cohesive unit and this morphological arrangement may have a bearing on the motion and coordination of the whole system.
Two structural features extending throughout the length of the animal have been identified per cortical stripe in the body wall of Stentor; first, km fibres lying just beneath the pellicle are composed of stacks of fibrillar sheets and are identical with the birefringent fibres observed in the living animal. The individual fibrils of the sheets are in turn connected to the kinetosomes of the body cilia; thus the km fibres are homologous to kinetodesmata. Secondly, M bands lie beneath the km fibres and form an interconnected system in contact with the surrounding vacuolated cytoplasm; the thickness of the M bands is greatest at the base of a contracted animal. The contractile and extensile properties of these organelles have been discussed in the light of experimental results and theoretical considerations.