The streaming endoplasm of characean cells has been shown to contain previously unreported endoplasmic filaments along which bending waves are observed under the light microscope using special techniques. The bending waves are similar to those propagated along sperm tails causing propulsion of sperm. In Nitella there is reason to believe that nearly all of the filaments are anchored in the cortex and that their beating propels the endoplasm in which they are suspended. This hypothesis is supported by calculations in which typical and average wave parameters have been inserted into the classical hydrodynamic equations derived for sperm tail bending waves. These calculations come within an order of magnitude of predicting the velocity of streaming and they show that waves of the character described, propagated along an estimated 52 m of endoplasmic filaments per cell, must generate a total motive force per cell within less than an order of magnitude of the forces measured experimentally by others. If we assume that undulating filaments produce the force driving the endoplasm, then the method described for measuring the motive force could lead to a lower than actual value for the motive force, since both centrifugation and vacuolar perfusion would reverse the orientation of some filaments. Observations of the initiation of particle translation in association with the filaments suggest that particle transport and wave propagation, which occur at the same velocity, may both be dependent on the same process. The possibility that some form of contractility provides the motive force for filament flection and particle transport is discussed.

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