Field of Science

Mystery Micrograph #22

[originally posted on 18.06.10 1:45am]
[EDIT 23.07.10: Btw, this mystery micrograph is still unsolved. Get crackin'. Ask questions if you need to.]

Apologies for the delay. To buy myself some time, I'll make it a really hard one this time. Like, a TEM. Bwahahaa. I'll give you a hint: these are not moth antennae.

Scalebars: 1um. To be referenced later.

Ultrastructure is particularly evil. Because it shows cells (cell slices) as they are, rather than how the researcher or artist thinks they are.

[25.06.10 HINT]: These structures are a synapomorphy/unique shared feature of one specific group of organisms.


  1. Right - small protists = small feathers =P

    I guess I should release a hint or something eventually...?

  2. OK, lessee (dangit I should know this stuff).

    Hydrogenosomes. Anaerobic protist.

    Axostyle. Trichomonad or oxymonad.

    More than one of 'em. Probably a "hypermastigote" type of trichomonad.

    Feathery pelta? OK, I don't have one of those in the library ...

    Third image from the left?

  3. Going pretty good there, all the way until and including Hypermastigote.

    These structures are a variation of something very characteristic...

  4. How large is the taxon for which these structures are a synaptomorphy? As large as a domain, say?

  5. Is it a section through a Kinetoplast? Although I had to squint to see a resemblance.

  6. @Paul Close enough. Joenoides. So what are those feather-like structures?

    @anon Nah; just Parabasalia in general. I'm not sure what the official rank of that taxon is, as I reject ranked taxonomy ;-)

    @Douglas No, kinetoplasts are very "hockey puck"-like. Like a super-dense disk of loopy things (chromosomes).

  7. "So what are those feather-like structures?"

    They are the 'parabasal fibers' - composed of numerous subfibers that spread through the cytoplasm and are associated with the Golgi.

    At least, that's my assumption. I wasn't able to get the journal article that I imagine the pictures are from: Ultrastructure of Joenoides intermedia (Grassé 1952), a symbiotic parabasalid flagellate of Hodotermes mossambicus, and its comparison with other joeniid genera. I had to make an educated guess from the abstract.

  8. Yup, very cool-looking parabasal fibres!

    Actually this is from Brugerolle & Bordereau 2003 Eur J Prot (, which should be easier to access than the older paper. If not, and if you'd like, I can send you a pdf if interested ^^

  9. I don't have access to that journal. I'd appreciate the pdf - looks really interesting. I'm a bacteria guy, so I really don't have much protozoa experience. I'm always blown away by how complex protozoa are. If you could send me the pdf to pworthen(at), that would be great.


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