Cleavage planes in frog eggs are altered by strong magnetic fields

James M. Denegre, James M. Valles, Kevin Lin, W. B. Jordan, Kimberly L. Mowry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Early cleavages of Xenopus embryos were oriented in strong, static magnetic fields. Third-cleavage planes, normally horizontal, were seen to orient to a vertical plane parallel with a vertical magnetic field. Second cleavages, normally vertical, could also be oriented by applying a horizontal magnetic field. We argue that these changes in cleavage-furrow geometries result from changes in the orientation of the mitotic apparatus. We hypothesize that the magnetic field acts directly on the microtubules of the mitotic apparatus. Considerations of the length of the astral microtubules, their diamagnetic anisotropy, and flexural rigidity predict the required field strength for an effect that agrees with the data. This observation provides a clear example of a static magnetic-field effect on a fundamental cellular process, cell division.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14729-14732
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 8 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell division
  • Microtubules
  • Mitotic apparatus
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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