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J Invertebr Pathol. 2003 Mar;82(3):167-75.

Infection and replication sites of Spiroplasma kunkelii (Class: Mollicutes) in midgut and Malpighian tubules of the leafhopper Dalbulus maidis.

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Molecular and Cellular Imaging Center (MCIC), Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691, USA.


Spiroplasma kunkelii distribution and infection mechanisms in the intestines and Malpighian tubules of Dalbulus maidis were investigated by transmission electron microscopy. Spiroplasmas were found between microvilli and in endocytic vesicles of the midgut epithelium. At the basal part, cytoplasmic vesicles contained multiple spiroplasmas with tube-like extensions and spiroplasmas accumulated between the laminae rara and densa of the basal lamina. Tip structures of flask-shaped spiroplasmas pierced the lamina densa that was discontinuous in close proximity to spiroplasmas. Spiroplasmas were found in hemolymph, crossed the basal lamina of Malpighian tubule epithelium and accumulated at high numbers in muscle cells that had cytopathogenic changes. S. kunkelii had perithrochous approximately 8nm diameter structures determined to be fimbriae protruding from the cell surface, and similar structures were adhering to the basal lamina of midgut epithelium and to external lamina of muscle cells. Further, spiroplasmas had pili-like appendages at one or both cell poles and appeared to conjugate. This is the first time that fimbriae and pili have been observed in a mollicutes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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