A cytological study of micronuclear elongation during conjugation in Tetrahymena

Chromosoma. 1976 Jun 23;55(4):289-308. doi: 10.1007/BF00292827.


Micronuclear elongation is the first major event in a series of nuclear changes occurring during the sexual stage of the life cycle of Tetrahymena. Beginning at about one hour after cells of complementary mating types have conjugated, the micronucleus leaves its recess in the macronucleus and swells slightly. This is accompanied by a reorganization of its chromatin from a reticular to a solid body. In the next stage the micronucleus assumes an egg shape, a development concomitant with the appearance of microtubules. While the chromatin "spins out" from the dense body, and microtubules increase in number, the nucleus assumes a spindle shape. During the elongation, which increases the length of the nucleus some fifty fold, microtubules are prominent in clusters just internal to the nuclear membrane, and parallel to the longitudinal axis of the nucleus. When elongation is completed the nucleus is curved around the macronucleus. Internally, partially condensed strands of chromatin are located off-center, towards the macronuclear side, and the density of the microtubules is diminished. At all the stages, DNA is located throughout the nucleus; neither discrete chromosomes nor synaptonemal complexes are seen. Occasionally cytoplasmic membrane systems are seen fused to the nuclear envelope which retains the typical appearance of a double membrane with pores.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure*
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • Meiosis
  • Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Organoids / ultrastructure
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis / ultrastructure*


  • Chromatin