Ultrastructural Features of Three Ectocommensal Protozoa Attached to the Gills of the Red Swamp Crawfish, Procambarus clarkii (Crustacea: Decapoda)

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Because heavy branchial infestations are thought to interfere with respiration, we examined the attachment of three stalked ciliates commonly found in the branchial chambers of Louisiana crawfish. Attachments by Cothurnia sp., Epistylis sp. and Acineta sp. differ in their fine structure. Stalks of the peritrichous ciliates. Cothurnia and Epistylis, contain striated tubules that differ in their arrangement, diameter, and in the periodicity of their striations. In both species the striated tubules branch within the basal disk and attach to a pad of adhesive material secreted by the organism during initial attachment to the gill surface. The stalk of the suctorian Acineta is composed of a striated honeycomb‐like matrix. Within the basal disc the matrix is disorganized; however, striated elements anchor the stalk to a pad of adhesive material. Attachment sites also differ in the amount of secretory material deposited. Cothurnia forms a multi‐layered, granular pad; Epistylis forms an indistinct, microfibrillar layer, and Acineta deposits a thick mucoid pad. None of the ciliates appear to damage the gill epicuticle nor is there an obvious host response. Harmful effects are probably limited to a decrease in respiratory surface area and disruption of normal water flow patterns. This may impair respiration sufficiently to increase the susceptibility of crawfish to low dissolved oxygen concentrations encountered periodically in commercial crawfish ponds. Copyright © 1988, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved

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The Journal of Protozoology

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