The ultrastructure of the haptoral clamps of the chimaericolid monogenean Chimaericola leptogaster, a basal polyopisthocotylean from the gills of a holocephalan fish, is described. These clamps are characterized by the presence of two muscle blocks interrupted mid-anteriorly and mid-posteriorly and different kinds of hard structures: a single median and paired lateral sclerites embedded in the clamp wall; six spine-like structures directed towards the clamp lumen; and electron dense surface structures along the internal surface of the anterior clamp lips and along the luminal surface of the tegument of the clamp lumen. The lateral sclerites are situated deep within muscular tissue and are closely bounded by radial myofibrils, possessing a uniform electron dense matrix within which are hollow areas of different sizes. The median sclerite occupies an area between the clamp wall myofibrils and the luminal epithelium, is surrounded by a basement lamina and is composed of a heterogeneous matrix comprising two different morphological layers related to variations in the type and concentration of fibrils. Four of the spine-like structures are extensions of the margins of the two spindle-like muscle blocks in the clamps, i.e. the two anterior and two posterior structures, and the two others are situated at the lateral constrictions of the left and right muscle blocks. The electron dense surface structures are derivations of the clamp tegument or, to be more precise, its outer, densely fibrous region. These results are discussed in relation to the evidence that the haptoral clamps of C. leptogaster are apparently ancient origin.
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Special thanks are due to Prof. Odd Halvorsen, Natural History Museum, Oslo University, Norway, for his kind assistance with finding a source of chimaeras. The authors would like to thank the staff of the RV ‘Johan Ruud’, belonging to Tromsø University, for their invaluable help with the fishing. We are also grateful to the staff of the Centre of Electron Microscopy of the I.D. Papanin Institute of the Biology for Inland Waters, RAS, for technical assistance. The present study was supported by the Russian Foundation for Fundamental Research project no. 12-04-00149a (to LGP).
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