Certain morphological features of intracellular crystal formation within the midgut glands of Limnoria lignorum (Rathke) have been studied with the electron microscope and cytochemical methods. A correlation has been established between Golgi membranes and formation of the crystals.
The Prussian blue reaction reveals quantities of iron localized in the intracellular crystals and in small granular structures seen in the apical region of the cells. These granules can be identified as accumulations of Golgi membranes, with which iron-containing particles are associated. When these membrane configurations are studied with the electron microscope, they can be classified and arranged in an assumed sequence which is thought to represent successive stages in the development of crystals.
As the membrane systems become progressively specialized, increasing accumulations of dense granular material appear within their interstices. This material is rich in iron and probably represents the component responsible for the positive Prussian blue reaction. This material also appears to be a precursor substance for iron-containing protein molecules which are synthesized and arranged to make up the crystals. These iron-containing molecules are first deposited in orderly array as double rows of dense particles on certain internal membranes of the specialized Golgi complexes. The membranes later disappear and the particles form definitive crystals by rearrangement into a hexagonal close-packed pattern.