Treatment of Nitella antheridia with colchicine results in various sperm abnormalities, depending upon duration of exposure and subsequent recovery. Early effects of treatment include disappearance of spindle fibers and a cessation of ordered cell wall formation in dividing cells. Sperm released from antheridia treated for 24 hr and allowed to recover for 4–5 days possess branched flagella. After a recovery period of 6–10 days the sperm appear normal; however, following longer recovery periods, the sperm exhibit variations in size and number of flagella. Branched flagella contain a variety of microtubule patterns ranging from branches containing a single microtubule to flagella with an excess of microtubules. Spermatids which differentiate in the presence of colchicine lack flagella and a microtubular sheath. Nuclear contents undergo condensation stages; however, the nucleus as a whole does not undergo the orderly elongation and coiling characteristic of untreated Nitella spermatids. Long-term colchicine treatment followed by a recovery period produces atypical microtubules and microtubular aggregations in the spermatid. The results indicate that colchicine affects not only polymerization of microtubule subunits but also factors responsible for their ordered spatial relationships in the cell. The presence of microtubules is a prerequisite for normal morphological changes during spermiogenesis.

This content is only available as a PDF.