Structure and invasive behaviour of Plasmodium knowlesi merozoites in vitro

Parasitology. 1975 Dec;71(3):483-91. doi: 10.1017/s0031182000047247.


The structure and invasive behaviour of extracellular erythrocytic merozoites prepared by a cell sieving method have been studied with the electron microscope. Free merozoites contain organelles similar to those described in late schizonts of Plasmodium knowlesi. Their surface is lined by a coat of short filaments. On mixing with fresh red cells, merozoites at first adhere, then cause the red cell surface to invaginate rapidly, often with the formation of narrow membranous channels in the red cell interior. As the merozoite enters the invagination it forms an attachment by its cell coat to the rim of the pit, and finally leaves this coat behind as it is enclosed in a red cell vacuole. Dense, rounded intracellular bodies then move to the merozoite periphery, and apparently rupture to cause further localized invagination of the red cell vacuole. The merozoite finally loses its rhoptries, the pellicle is reduced to a single membrane and the parasite becomes a trophozoite. Invasion is complete by 1 min after adhesion, and the trophozoite is formed by 10 min.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Erythrocytes / parasitology
  • Erythrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Plasmodium / growth & development
  • Plasmodium / ultrastructure*
  • Vacuoles / ultrastructure