Ultrastructural qualitative and quantitative data on the sporogenesis of the protozoan Abelspora portucalensis (microspora, abelsporidae): A different approach to the study of microsporidia



The sporogenesis of the microsporidium Abelspora portucalensis was studied with electron microscopy. In qualitative terms, new aspects of the cytoplasmic ultrastructure of the schizont, sporont, and sporoblast are described: the presence of microtubules, of aggregates of small opaque vesicles, and of dispersed larger vesicles with clear matrix. The hypothesis that the opaque vesicles may represent the Golgi apparatus and the clear vesicles may correspond to the smooth endoplasmic reticulum is discussed. The use of standard stereological and statistical techniques gives us a new perspective on the development of this microsporidium. The most relevant quantitative data display that the amount of rough endoplasmic reticulum (either in relative or absolute terms) presents significant differences among the three stages, with the sporont showing the highest values; that the absolute (but not the relative) volume of the large vesicles significantly changes during sporogenesis with the highest values presented by the sporont; that the surface-to-volume ratio of the schizont and sporont cells is similar and significantly greater than that of the sporoblast cell; that the surface density of the nucleus in relation to soma remains constant in the three stages (on the contrary, the surface-to-volume ratio of the nucleus increases and its volumetric density diminishes); and finally, that the nucleolus decreases its relative and absolute volumes. The functional significance of these results is analyzed and the application of similar methodology in quantifying the effects of drugs upon microsporidia is suggested. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.