Comments on the mechanism of attachment in species of the monogenean genus Gyrodactylus


Shinn A, Sommerville C, Bron J & Gibson D (2003) Comments on the mechanism of attachment in species of the monogenean genus Gyrodactylus. Invertebrate Biology, 122 (1), pp. 1-11.

In species of the monogenean helminth Gyrodactylus, the opisthaptor is the main organ of attachment to the host. The opisthaptor comprises two large centrally positioned hooks or hamuli and sixteen peripherally distributed marginal hooks. This paper describes the functional morphology and the mechanism and sequence of attachment in this species. Information on the attachment process was gathered from observations of live gyrodactylids, from transmission electron microscopy, from scanning electron microscopy of skeletal elements, and by histochemical and X-ray elemental analysis of hook chemical composition. The marginal hooks provide the principal force of attachment whilst the hamuli are not actively employed in the process of attachment. Instead, the hamuli provide a system preventing accidental dislodgement and assist the action of the marginal hooks. Attachment is achieved by the alternating action of two systems of muscles attached respectively to the hamuli and to the marginal hooks. Relaxation or contraction of the muscles connected to the hamuli manoeuvres the hamuli over the extremities of the accessory ventral bar and allows them to pivot around their longitudinal axis, effectively raising or lowering the opisthaptoral dome. Under reduced opisthaptoral tension, the independent gaffing activity of the marginal hooks ensures a secure attachment to the host's epidermis. Repositioning of the hamuli then raises the opisthaptoral dome to tension the peripheral marginal hooks. The sequence of attachment is complete when all the muscles associated with the hooks are in a state of relaxation but are held securely and under tension by the surrounding, stretched, opisthaptoral dome.

Monogenea; parasite; hooks; opisthaptor

Invertebrate Biology: Volume 122, Issue 1

Publication date31/03/2003