The relationship between the ciliated epidermal cells and the subepidermal layer of the miracidium of Fasciola hepatica has been described. Non-ciliated ridge-like extensions of the subepidermal layer separate the ciliated epidermal cells from each other. The sunken portions of the subepidermal layer, each containing a nucleus, lie below the outer body wall muscles of the miracidium and open into the ridge by narrow neck-like connexions. Elongate vesicles, which may be a source of stored plasma membrane similar to that which occurs in the transitional epithelium of other animals, fill most of the ridge. In addition, characteristic round electron dense granules are found in the ridge but the majority are found in the sunken portions of the subepidermal layer.
The development and origins of the tegument of the sporocyst of F. hepatica have been described at the ultrastructural level. When the miracidium is in the process of penetrating the snail host, large vacuoles appear between the ciliated epidermal cells and the basal lamina which overlies the muscles of the body wall. These vacuoles have the effect of loosening the epidermal cells from the basal lamina of the body wall of the miracidium. Possible mechanisms involved in the formation of such vacuoles are suggested and discussed.
During penetration of the snail the ciliated epidermal cells of the miracidium are lost; the ridge, a syncytial layer between the epidermal cells which is connected with the subepidermal layer, spreads over the basal lamina and exposed body wall muscles of the metamorphosing sporocyst to form the new outer covering of the sporocyst.
Cytoplasm passes from the subtegumentary layer into the tegument during this stage of the development of the body wall of the sporocyst. Muscular contraction and microtubules may be involved in the outward movements of this cytoplasm. The nuclei of the subtegumentary layer remain below the muscles of the body wall.
Twenty-four hours after penetration of the snail the outer plasma membrane of the tegument forms folds, which greatly increase the surface area.
Sixty hours after penetration involutions between the folds, which may indicate pinocytosis, are present, and it is suggested that pinocytosis may play a role in food absorption.
The fully formed tegument is a syncytial layer containing numerous electron dense granules, vacuoles, mitochondria and lipid droplets.
The results on the formation of the tegument of the sporocyst have been discussed with reference to the controversy about the origins and terminology of the outer covering of the Platyhelminths.