Parasitic rhizocephalan barnacles induce morphological, physiological, and behavioural changes in their hosts. The mechanisms of these intimate host-parasite interactions remain unknown. We have shown previously that rootlets of the internae of Peltogasterella gracilis and Peltogaster paguri penetrate the ganglion's envelope of their hermit crab hosts and form specialised structures in the ganglion periphery,the so-called goblet-shaped organs. Here, we examine the gross morphology and ultrastructure of these goblet-shaped organs in the interna of Sacculina pilosella. They consist of three layers of cells; in the intermediate layer of the organs, unusual lamellar bodies and muscle cells were found. Extensive degeneration of the host nervous tissue was observed in the funnel of the goblet-shaped organs. We conclude that the ability to penetrate into the host's nervous tissue could be a common trait in rhizocephalans. The goblet-shaped organs may play a key role in the host-parasite relationships by enabling the parasite to influence the host via hormones and neurotransmitters.
Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Developmental Biology