Discovery and Rediscovery

The era of Golgi apparatus discovery may be divided conveniently into three phases — the initial discovery (1865–1925), the controversy (1925–1955), and the modern rediscovery (1955–1963) (see chronology of events, Appendix Table 1 p. 257). Although doubtless seen by others earlier, the discovery of the Golgi apparatus is ascribed to the Italian cytologist Camillo Golgi (1898) who described an apparato reticolare interno (internal reticular apparatus) in his now famous “ Sur la structure des cellules nerveuses.” The description was based on light microscopy of nerve cells of the barn owl and cat made possible through experiments in specimen preparation, where tissues were placed in a silver nitrate bath after preliminary fixation in a solution of bichromate. This method, in modified form, persists today as the “ Golgi—Cox” method of preparing nervous tissue for light microscopic examination. Various elements of the nervous system (i.e., Purkinje cells) are rendered dark brown or black against an almost clear background. The modern equivalent of what Golgi initially described is still not clear. It was a darkly staining internal reticular apparatus (Fig. 1). There is little doubt that the region of the cell presently equated with the Golgi apparatus was included in Golgi 's observation but the possibility remains that other cell components, such as portions of the endoplasmic reticulum which may be darkly stained by the method, also were included.

Many workers, in the period 1915–1945 and beyond, applied Golgi 's methods or variations thought to stain an equivalent region of the cell. They equated a variety of structures with the apparatus of Golgi but not in all cell types and tissues. Various misidentifications were major contributions to an element of doubt as to the reality, generality, and function of the Golgi apparatus. This era between 1925 and 1955 is often referred to as the era of Golgi apparatus controversy. It was not until the advent of the electron microscope and the publications of Dalton and Felix in 1953 and of Sjöstrand and Hanzon in 1954 that the modern era of Golgi apparatus discovery would begin.


Purkinje Cell Golgi Apparatus Impregnation Technique Secretory Material Clear Background 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

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