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Intestine ultrastructure of the facultative parasite Halicephalobus gingivalis (Nematoda: Panagrolaimidae)

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Halicephalobus gingivalis, classified as a free-living nematode, is a known facultative parasite of horses, zebras and humans. However, detailed information concerning its internal morphology is lacking, especially in relation to possible adaptations to its lifestyle as a facultative parasite. The research presented here uses TEM and PI staining to analyse the morphology of the intestine of H. gingivalis. Specimens cultured under different conditions were included to determine if differences in ultrastructure are induced by culturing method. TEM analysis revealed that the intestinal tract comprises a single layer of cells in which nine pairs of nuclei can be distinguished. Further, unusual dichotomously and trichotomously branched microvilli were observed next to finger-like cylindrical microvilli, the latter being the most commonly described form in nematodes. Finally, three different types of secretion vesicles, i.e., spherical (type I), thread-like (type II) and enlarged globular (type III), occurred independently from each other along the intestinal tract. The relationship of morphological adaptations of the microvilli to parasitism in nematodes is discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Nematology section, Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium


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