Permeability of the cercarial tail in Proterometra macrostoma was examined in vitro with 1 mM 3H-glucose, which tails absorb by diffusion alone. Naturally emerged cercariae (bodies withdrawn into tails) were permeable, but they rapidly (3 min) equilibrated with glucose in the bathing medium and maintained steady state for 4 hr. Metabolism of absorbed glucose was not detectable until after 90 min, and radioactivity in bodies dissected from tails after 4 hr was negligible. On the basis of cercarial water content (90% of total weight) and absorbed isotope at steady state, the calculated volume of the equilibrating compartment was 4% of an intact cercaria. This value correlated well with that of the tegument (3–5%), which was 1–2 µm thick as seen by transmission electron microscopy. A continuous, electron-dense basal membrane/lamina separated the tegument from subtegument. We conclude that the glycocalyx and external plasma membrane are freely permeable, whereas the basal membrane is the barrier that effectively isolated the subtegument from exogenous glucose. The basal membrane also may be the primary structure that protects the subtegument and cercarial body from effects of osmotic stress.

You do not currently have access to this content.