A Comparative Study of Gametocyte Ultrastructure in Avian Haemosporidia


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26 Scopus citations


The fine structure of gametocytes of 3 avian haemosporidian parasites Plasmodium gallinaceum, Haemoproteus columbae, and Leucocytozoon simondi has been studied and compared by electron microscopy. The gametocytes of all 3 species are bounded by a 3‐layered limiting membrane system, possess a cytostome during some portion of their residence within host cells, and their sex can be distinguished by both nuclear and cytoplasmic characteristics. L. simondi differs most significantly from P. gallinaceum and H. columbae in possessing large intranuclear granules, mitochondria associated with pocket infoldings of the nuclear envelope near the atypical centriole complex and compartmentalization of the cytoplasm by segments of closely aligned unit membranes. Further, the cytostome of L. simondi does not appear to be a persistent structure as in the other 2 species and pigment is not present within food vacuoles. L. simondi also is capable of infecting a wider variety of host cells and within leukocytes produces striations of the host nucleus and an apparent spiral banding of the host cell surface. The comparison of P. gallinaceum, H. columbae, and L. simondi gametocytes by electron microscopy leads to the conclusion that Plasmodium and Haemoproteus are more closely related to each other than either of them is on Leucocytozoon. The terminology used to describe certain organelles within the gametocyte's cytoplasm has been reexamined and the relationship of the nucleolus to parasite maturation also is described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of protozoology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1973
Externally publishedYes


  • Haemoproteus columbae
  • Leucocytozoon simondi
  • Plasmodium gallinaceum
  • electron microscopy
  • gametocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology


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