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Eudiplozoon nipponicum in focus: monogenean exhibiting a highly specialized adaptation for ectoparasitic lifestyle

Valigurová, Andrea, Hodová, Iveta, Sonnek, Radim, Koubková, Božena, Gelnar, Milan
Parasitology research 2011 v.108 no.2 pp. 383-394
adaptation, adults, confocal scanning laser microscopy, digestion, digestive tract, gills, hosts, juveniles, lifestyle, mouth, niches, parasites, pharynx, scanning electron microscopy
Developmental stages of the diplozoid monogenean Eudiplozoon nipponicum, comprising oncomiracidium, diporpa, juvenile, and adult, were investigated using light and scanning electron microscopy in conjunction with confocal scanning laser microscopy in order to examine body organization and identify explicit morphological adaptations to the ectoparasitic life in each stage. The parasite exhibits a complex digestive tract well equipped for hematophagous feeding. It consists of a mouth opening with prominent buccal suckers, eversible pharynx with adjacent glandular structures, and a blind-ending gut with cecal lining. Glandulo-muscular organs, located apically and opened into the mouth corner, are considered to be a part of the digestive tract. Based on our observations of pharynx eversion and in light of the presence of several glandular or gland-like structures, we propose a new hypothesis on the possibility of extracorporeal digestion of this parasite. The hindbody bears an attachment apparatus, comprising haptor, lobular extensions, and tegumental folds, responsible for the parasite’s firm attachment to the host gills. The possibility of buccal suckers assisting in the parasite’s translocation while searching for an optimal niche or their temporary attachment function during feeding is discussed. The body of each compound adult (i.e., permanent copula) is almost completely filled by two complete reproductive tracts comprising the female as well as male organs. Such a reproductive strategy, in which two independent heterogenic individuals fuse into a single hermaphrodite organism without the need to search for mating partner, represents a high specialization of diplozoids to their parasitic life.