1. When a Fucus egg develops near one end in a close fitting capillary tube of pyrex glass or silica (quartz), diffusion of substances passing to and from the egg is more impeded on the side of the egg toward the far end of the tube.
2. The egg therefore develops in a gradient of its own diffusion products, and of oxygen tension.
3. More than 600 eggs have been reared, each near one end in a capillary, in sea water at various regulated and measured pH values.
4. When the medium, which is initially homogeneous inside and outside the capillary, is initially at pH 6.5 to 7.6, nearly all of the eggs develop rhizoid protuberances on the sides of the eggs toward the far ends of the capillaries. This is on the sides of the eggs where the concentration of substances diffusing from the eggs is greatest.
5. The polarity and developmental pattern of the egg is thus determined either by a concentration gradient of products diffusing from it, or by a gradient of oxygen tension. The former interpretation is favored.
6. This is regarded as an extension of earlier observations that rhizoid protuberances form on the sides of two neighboring eggs in the direction of the neighbor if the sea water is acidified.
7. It appears hardly possible that a mitogenetic effect could be responsible for the response of an egg to its own diffusion gradients.
8. When the medium is made more basic, the percentage of the eggs which form rhizoid protuberances toward the far end of the tube decreases to about 20 or 25 per cent between pH 8.1 and 8.6. The response of the egg to the gradients which it produces is thus statistically reversed. The determination of the polarity of the eggs by the diffusion gradients does not become as complete in alkalinized as in acidified sea water.
9. When the pH of the sea water is elevated to 9.1 or 9.2, salts precipitate out. The type of development is altered and the control of the diffusion gradients over the polarity of the eggs decreases.