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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The structure of the attachment organ of Cardiodectes medusaeus (Wilson) is examined by the use of light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy. The entire attachment organ resides within the bulbus arteriosus of the host's heart. It is a syncytial mass measuring approximately 2 mm in diameter. The organ is covered by a thin cuticle. Transmission electron microscopy reveals a myriad of delicate microvilli projecting from the underlying cytoplasm to the inner surface of the cuticle. Nuclei, mitochondria, rough endoplasmic reticulum, free polyribosomes, autophagosomes, and Golgi apparatus are subcellular constituents of the organ. Large crystalline aggregates, dispersed throughout the cytoplasm, are visible with both light and electron microscopy. Prussian blue staining of the crystals indicates a high iron content. Ultrastructurally, the crystals are identical to ferritin, and function to detoxify and store iron obtained from blood meals. The role of the cytoplasmic organelles in digestion of blood and formation of iron crystals is examined. Because digestion of host erythrocytes, and synthesis and storage of ferritin occur within the attachment organ cytoplasm, the organ may be considered as an elaboration of the digestive tract.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anatomy, University of California School of Medicine, Center for the Health Sciences, Los Angeles, California 90024.


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