Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 231, Issue 2, pp 275-287

First online:

Ultrastructural studies on sporogony of Babesia microti in salivary gland cells of the tick Ixodes dammini

  • Stephen J. KarakashianAffiliated withThe Rockefeller University
  • , Maria A. RudzinskaAffiliated withThe Rockefeller University
  • , Andrew SpielmanAffiliated withHarvard University, School of Public Health
  • , Sondra LewengrubAffiliated withThe Rockefeller University
  • , Joseph PiesmanAffiliated withHarvard University, School of Public Health
  • , Nader ShoukreyAffiliated withHarvard University, School of Public Health

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Tick larvae were permitted to feed on infected hamsters and then allowed to molt. Nymphs were examined just prior to feeding on uninfected hamsters or at timed intervals thereafter. Invasion of the salivary gland by B. microti occurs before feeding of the nymph begins, and development of the parasite is further stimulated by feeding. The sporoblast forms a massive multinucleated meshwork which ramifies throughout the large host cell. No separation of the meshwork into multiple subdivisions, termed “cytomeres” by other workers, has been detected. Instead the specialized organelles characteristic of sporozoites, namely micronemes, rhoptries, and segments of double membrane appear in the meshwork itself and gradually become organized into sporozoite anlagen which protrude from its surface. At the same time the meshwork shortens and thickens giving rise to large compact undifferentiated bodies whose surface is also studded with sporozoite anlagen. Sporozoites thus originate either from the meshwork or from the undifferentiated bodies. In either case large lobate nuclei send projections into the anlagen as they protrude from the surface of the sporoblast. In a final step the mature sporozoites arise by simultaneous nuclear and cytoplasmic divisions. There is no separate stage of schizogony and the process is one of true budding.

Key words

Babesia Tick Sporogony Salivary gland Ultrastructure