Parasitology Research

, Volume 79, Issue 4, pp 272–278 | Cite as

Processing of food vacuoles in the parasitic ciliateIchthyophthirius multifiliis after exit from the host

  • A. Lobo-da-Cunha
  • C. Azevedo
Original Investigations


The digestive cycle of the fish parasiteIchthyophthirius multifiliis (Ciliophora) can be divided into three main stages. During stage A the vacuoles are not yet condense. This stage can be subdivided into an early phase in which food vacuoles contain almost intact fish cells and a later phase in which dense material accumulates at the periphery of the vacuoles. At stage B, food vacuoles attain a very high density, and at stage C the vacuole expands when the membrane pulls away from a condensed mass of substances in digestion. After its exit from the host the parasite encysts and divides, but new food vacuoles are not formed during this phase of the life cycle. Type A vacuoles are the first to disappear after exit from the host. The percentage of type B vacuoles increases during the first few hours of free life, decreasing later when the percentage of type C vacuoles starts to increase. At the end of the division phase, type C vacuoles are the most common. Food-vacuole egestion was observed only 20 h after exit from the host. At the theront stage, food vacuoles were not evident, but small vacuoles with acid phosphatase activity were observed.


Life Cycle Early Phase Phosphatase Activity Acid Phosphatase Dense Material 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Lobo-da-Cunha
    • 1
  • C. Azevedo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cell Biology, Institute of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of OportoPortoPortugal

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