We examined tegumental development of the diplostomulum of Ornithodiplostomum ptychocheilus, with respect to structural transformations that have functional relevance to the invasion, migration, and site establishment processes in the brain of the fish second-intermediate host, Pimephales promelas. Using a combination of brightfield, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and confocal microscopy (CM), we demonstrated that the diplostomula become established in the outer region of the optic lobes within 24–48 hr of penetration and continue to grow and transform over a period of 4–14 days. During this period, the J-shaped body consists of 2 distinct regions: (1) a highly motile prosoma with distinctive tegumental spines and (2) an opisthosoma, the tegument of which is elaborated into a dense uniform layer of long, thin microvilli. The prosoma is alternately invaginated into and everted from the opisthosoma, thus constituting a protrusible proboscis. By day 14 postinfection (PI), the body has lost this bipartite structure and has taken on the uniformly flattened form characteristic of metacercariae. The transitory complex structure of the diplostomula appears to be well suited to burrowing through host tissues (primarily by action of the prosoma), followed by rapid dissociation of host tissue and nutrient accumulation (primarily by action of the opisthosoma) in preparation for metacercaria encystment.
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