Parasitology Research

, Volume 112, Issue 9, pp 3325–3333 | Cite as

Ultrastructure of the intrauterine eggs of the microphallid trematode Maritrema feliui: evidence of early embryonic development

  • Zdzisław ŚwiderskiEmail author
  • Jordi Miquel
  • Isabel Montoliu
  • Carlos Feliu
  • David I. Gibson
Original Paper


Intrauterine embryonic development in the microphallid trematode Maritrema feliui is examined by means of transmission electron microscopy. Both fertilization and eggshell formation take place in the ootype. The eggshell is formed from a shell globule material derived from the vitelline cells combined with secretions of Mehlis' gland. The proximal uterus is packed with unembryonated eggs of the oligolecithal type, each composed of a fertilized oocyte and several vitelline cells, all surrounded by the shell. Intrauterine embryonic development of the egg is followed to the early stage of outer embryonic envelope formation, resulting in an embryo of ~20 blastomeres of three different types: macromeres, mesomeres and micromeres. The first equal cleavage division of the zygote produces two macromeres. The outer envelope is of cellular origin and formed by the cytoplasmic fusion of two macromeres, which become situated at opposite poles in the peripheral layer of the embryo just beneath the eggshell. Simultaneously, other blastomeres multiply and differentiate, whereas several micromeres exhibit clear signs of degeneration or apoptosis. These results show that the embryonic development of M. feliui starts in utero and represents an example of early stage ovoviviparity. A reduction in the number of blastomeres results from a continued degeneration of micromeres, which after autolysis and re-absorption, appear to represent an important source of nutritive reserves for the embryo. The embryonic development of this digenean is discussed in relation to its life cycle.


Seminal Receptacle Early Degeneration Vitelline Cell Nutritive Reserve Shell Globule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Manuel Bertrand for his hospitality and valuable help with the collection of the shrews in La Ricarda EBYSA. We are also grateful to the ‘Unitat de Microscòpia, Facultat de Medicina, Centres Científics i Tecnològics de la Universitat de Barcelona (CCiTUB)’ for their support in the preparation of samples, particularly Núria Cortadellas and Almudena García. The present study was partially funded by the grant of ‘Agència de Gestió d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (AGAUR) (no. 2009SGR403)’.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zdzisław Świderski
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jordi Miquel
    • 3
    • 4
  • Isabel Montoliu
    • 3
  • Carlos Feliu
    • 3
    • 4
  • David I. Gibson
    • 5
  1. 1.W. Stefański Institute of ParasitologyPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland
  2. 2.Department of General Biology and ParasitologyWarsaw Medical UniversityWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Laboratori de Parasitologia, Departament de Microbiologia i Parasitologia Sanitàries, Facultat de FarmàciaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat, Facultat de BiologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Life SciencesNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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