Ultrastructural Study on the Development of Babesia equi (Coccidia: Piroplasmia) in the Salivary Glands of its Vector Ticks


  • This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The authors wish to express appreciation to Profs. Drs. Brown and Chieves (U.S.D.A., Ames, Iowa) for a strain of Babesia equi and to Dr. Kirmse (GTZ, Morocco) for the other B. equi strain and for ticks. Prof. Dr. Liebisch (Hannover) kindly provided two tick strains.


The formation of Babesia equi sporozoites in the salivary glands of three tick species (Hyalomma anatolicum anatolicum, H. a. excavatum, Rhipicephalus turanicus) was studied by electron microscopy. The development was identical in all three vectors. On the 8th day post repletionem kinetes of B. equi had invaded alveoli of the nymphal salivary glands and were transformed to sporonts bounded by a single membrane. The sporonts were polymorphous bodies each with a highly lobed nucleus and numerous mitochondria. These stages persisted during ecdysis of the tick nymph to the adult stage. After attachment of these newly molted adults to a new host the formation of sporozoites was completed within five days. The sporonts occupied most of the infected alveolus and were extensively divided into cytoplasmic portions of various size. On the 4th day after attachment of the tick, sporozoite-anlagen, into each of which a nucleus and a mitochondrion were incorporated, appeared at the periphery of the sporonts. An apical complex with a polar ring, rhoptries, and micronemes was formed at the tip of each protruding anlage. Finally thousands of pyriform sporozoites (3.0 × 1.2 μm) filled the hypertrophied alveolus. This development is similar to sporogony in the genus Theileria.