The parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii has been examined with the electron microscope in order to study the fine structure and the formation of the membranes surrounding the cell. The study of the ultrastructure of the membranes covering the parasite shows the existence of a three-membraned complex. Only the outer membrane is considered to be the plasma membrane; the two membranes below it form an inseparable whole of changeable molecular architecture (modifications in appearance depending on the methods of fixation, local differentiation). During reproduction, which takes place by fission or more often by endogeny, the membranes of the daughter individuals are formed from the membranes of the parent. At first the middle and inner membranes of the parent extend, separating the cytoplasm of the daughter cells from that of the parent. The three-membrane complex of the endozoites is completed at the time of their liberation; the external membrane of the parent covers the leaving endozoites; thus, the plasma membrane of the daughter cells derives also from that of the parent. These findings on the origin and role of limiting membranes during reproduction differ entirely from those described so far for other cells.

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