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Ultrastructure of the Oral Apparatus of Mesodinium rubrum from Korea


Corresponding Authors: W. Shin, Department of Biology, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Korea—Telephone number: +82 42 821 6409; e-mail:;

W. Yih, Department of Oceanography, Kunsan National University, Kunsan 573-701, Korea—Telephone number: +82 63 469 4602; e-mail:


Mesodinium rubrum Lohmann is a photosynthetic marine ciliate that has functional chloroplasts of cryptophyte origin. Little is known about the oral ultrastructure of M. rubrum compared with several reports on the sequestration of nuclei and plastids from prey organisms, such as Geminigera cryophila and Teleaulax species. Here, we describe the fine structure of the oral apparatus of a M. rubrum strain from Gomso Bay, Korea. The cytopharynx was cone-shaped and supported by 20–22 ribbons of triplet microtubules. At the anterior end of the cytopharynx, an annulus anchored small cylinders composed of 11 microtubules. The small cylinders were spaced at regular intervals, each reinforced by one set of the triplet microtubules. At the opening of the cytostome, larger 14-membered microtubular cylinders were set adjacent to the small, 11-membered microtubular cylinders, each pair surrounded by separate membranes, however, only the large cylinders extended into the oral tentacles. There were 20–22 oral tentacles each having one to five extrusomes at its tip. At the anterior end of the oral apparatus, microtubular bands supporting the cytostome curved posteriad, extending beneath the cell cortex to the kinetosomes of the somatic cirri. The microtubular bands were connected by striated fibers and originated from kinetosomes anchored by fibers. Each cirrus consisted of eight cilia associated with 16 kinetosomes. The ultrastructure of M. rubrum from Korea provides information useful for taxonomic characterization of the genus Mesodinium and relevant to developing a better understanding of the acquisition of foreign organelles through phagocytosis by M. rubrum.