The Black Reaction: an Ante Litteram “Cognitive” Biotechnology


  • Mattia Quattrocelli Cell Culture Laboratory, Dept. of Experimental Medicine, University of Pavia, I
  • Paolo Mazzarello Department of Experimental Medicine and University Museum System, University of Pavia, I


Black reaction , Golgi apparatus, Sarcoplasmatic reticulum, Biotechnology


The black reaction, also known nowadays as “Golgi staining” or “Golgi impregnation”, paved the way to the development of modern neuroscience at the end of XIX century. By this staining, the silhouette of the nerve cell appears in all its morphological complexity with all its ramifications, which could be followed and analyzed even at a great distance from the cell body. However the reaction has been fundamental for discoveries in several other areas of biomedical research: cytology, myology, bacteriology. With the aid of the black reaction, for example, it was possible to observe: the Golgi apparatus, the T system related to thefunction of the sarcoplasmatic reticulum, the Müller-Golgi canaliculi of the peptic glands and many more; this wide and various success is due to its character of morphological amplification of fine structures. In spite of its still controversial biochemical nature, the black reaction has been an unavoidable versatile tool in different areas of biology, so we propose to consider this method as an ante litteram “cognitive” biotechnology.