The morphology and attachment of Protopolystoma xenopodis (Monogenea: Polystomatidae) infecting the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis
Du Preez, Louis H.
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The African clawed frog Xenopus laevis (Anura: Pipidae) is host to more than 25 parasite genera encompassing most of the parasitic invertebrate groups. Protopolystoma xenopodis Price, 1943 (Monogenea: Polystomatidae) is one of two monogeneans infecting X. laevis. This study focussed on the external morphology of different developmental stages using scanning electron microscopy, histology and light microscopy. Eggs are released continuously and are washed out when the frog urinates. After successful development, an active swimming oncomiracidium leaves the egg capsule and locates a potential post-metamorphic clawed frog. The oncomiracidium migrates to the kidney where it attaches and starts to feed on blood. The parasite then migrates to the urinary bladder where it reaches maturity. Eggs are fusiform, about 300 μm long, with a smooth surface and are operculated. Oncomiracidia are elongated and cylindrical in shape, with an oval posterior cup-shaped haptor that bears a total of 20 sclerites; 16 marginal hooklets used for attachment to the kidney of the host and two pairs of hamulus primordia. Cilia from the 64 ciliated cells enable the oncomiracidium to swim for up to 24 h when the cilia subsequently curl up, become non-functional and are shed from the body. The tegument between the ciliated cells bears a series of sensory papillae. The body of the mature parasite is elongated and pyriform and possesses an opisthaptor armed with three pairs of suckers and two pairs of falciform hooks to ensure a firm grip on the flexible internal surface of the urinary bladder.