Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in the Journal of Parasitology (October 2001) 87(5): 988-996. Copyright 2001, the American Society of Parasitologists. Used by permission.


The host-parasite interface between two species of damselflies and four species of eugregarines was examined at the ultrastructural level. Nubenocephalus nebraskensis organisms attached to the host midgut epithelium by means of a sucker-like protomerite; the space between the epicytic folds and host epithelium was filled with electron-dense material interpreted to be adhesive in nature. Actinocephalus carrilynnae organisms attached by means of the epimerite, which had no epicytic folds, and by the fluted stalk with characteristic epicytic folds; host cell and parasite membranes appeared fused at some places on the epimerite. Hoplorhynchus acanthatholius organisms attached by means of an ovoid epimerite with backward-pointing digitations; the entire epimerite was embedded in a host cell, and host cell microvilli surrounded the stalk. Steganorhynchus dunwoodyi organisms attached by means of an ovoid stalk papilla enclosed in a retractable globular sheath; the papilla was covered with epicytic folds, but the sheath was not, and the sheath had a single membrane, whereas the epicytic folds had two or three membranes. The entire apparatus was inserted between epithelial cells, and the sheath was highly folded at its surface. The ultrastructural observations suggest that actinocephalid gregarines have evolved two general strategies for attaching to the host epithelium, that is, suckerlike protomerites, as in the case of N. nebraskensis, and deeply embedded epimerites inserted within or between host cells, as in the other species studied.

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