Plasmodium elongatum, an avian malarial parasite, differs from other such parasites by infecting both the circulating red blood cells and the hematopoietic cells. The exoerythrocytic development of P. elongatum occurs mainly in these red cell precursors. The fine structure of the asexual stages of P. elongatum has been studied in the bone marrow and peripheral blood of canaries and compared with that of the asexual stages of other avian malarial parasites. With minor differences, the merozoites of P. elongatum possess the same organelles as those in the exoerythrocytic merozoites of P. fallax and the erythrocytic stages of P. cathemerium, P. lophurae, P. fallax, and P. gallinaceum. The developmental sequence is also essentially similar to that of other avian malarial parasites, in that upon entry into a new host cell, the dedifferentiation, growth, and redifferentiation phases take place. However, we have found some important differences in the feeding mechanism of P. elongatum. The cytostome is involved in the ingestion of host cell cytoplasm in both exoerythrocytic and erythrocytic stages, in contrast to P. fallax, in which the cytostome is inactive in the exoerythrocytic stages. In P. elongatum, host cell cytoplasm is ingested through the cytostome, and "boluses" are formed and incorporated into a large digestive vacuole. Subsequently, the digestion of the boluses takes place in this digestive vacuole. Thus, in regard to the function of the cytostome, the exoerythrocytic stages of P. elongatum appear to be closely related to the erythrocytic stage which has a feeding mechanism similar to that of the erythrocytic stage of other avian malarial parasites.

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