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In vivo evidence for a circadian rhythm in membranes of Gonyaulax


IT has been suggested that rhythmic oscillations in membranes are the underlying mechanism for endogenous circadian rhythms1,2 To support this suggestion, periodic oscillations in membranes of organisms displaying circadian rhythmicity must first be demonstrated. Rhythmic oscillations associated with membranes have been observed in the spontaneous firing of the optic nerve of Aplysia3 and in the transmembrane potential of the pulvini of Samanea4. It is not clear if these membrane-associated rhythms are a function of specialised cells, or are basic phenomena of circadian rhythms. The only membrane-associated rhythm described in a unicellular organism so far is that of a circadian rhythm in particle distribution of one of the membranes of Gonyaulax polyedra5. We have now investigated the rhythmic changes in the membrane potential of G. polyedra. We used the method of Hoffman and Laris6, in which fluorescent cyanine dyes are used to monitor the membrane potential in vivo of cells not amenable to the insertion of microelectrodes, in this case because of their small size and lack of a central vacuole. Our results suggest a temporal reorganisation of one of the membranes of Gonyaulax with circadian time.

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ADAMICH, M., LARIS, P. & SWEENEY, B. In vivo evidence for a circadian rhythm in membranes of Gonyaulax. Nature 261, 583–585 (1976).

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