The trichites of Strombidium and related genera have been considered either as a cytoskeletal armature or as extrusomes. To demonstrate their true nature, a study was undertaken on two marine Strombidium species by ultrastructural and cytochemical analysis as well as in vivo experiments. Trichites, extending from the cortex into the cell, are rod-shaped, membrane-bounded, and have a complex structure. The following elements of the trichites, are distinguishable: an electron-transparent lumen, a laminated layer, and a compact layer. In trichites of one species, thin “rings” surround the lumen. Numerous short, curved tubules with a polysaccharide wall are present in the cytoplasm surrounding the trichites. At the cortical end, each trichite is enveloped by a &ldquo@p” of electron-dense proteinaceous material. In some cases, the cortical alveoli appear interrupted, forming a “hole” for trichite ejection. Ejection of rod-shaped structures, up to 5 times longer than resting trichites, was obtained by in vivo treatments with dextran and aminoethyldextran. Negative staining indicated that these structures were transformed trichites. As no other possible extrusive structures were observed in the cytoplasm of Strombidium, trichites were considered extrusomes.
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