Novel Life Cycle Stages of Colpodella sp. (Apicomplexa) Identified Using Sam-Yellowe’s Trichrome Stains and Confocal and Electron Microscopy

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

International Microbiology


Colpodella spp. are free-living flagellates closely related to the apicomplexans. Human infections by Colpodella sp. have been reported. A biflagellated trophozoite and cyst stage comprise the known life cycle stages of Colpodella sp. However, the process of encystation and excystation within the life cycle is unclear. Life cycle stages initiating human infections are unknown. We performed a detailed investigation of the life cycle of Colpodella sp. (ATCC 50594) in culture using Sam-Yellowe’s trichrome stains and differential interference contrast (DIC) for light microscopy and fluorescence microscopy of Congo red-stained cells and investigated ultrastructure using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We report previously undocumented stages of Colpodella sp. Asymmetric and asynchronous division was detected inside cysts by trichrome staining and by TEM. Odd-numbered juveniles and cysts containing more than four juvenile trophozoites were identified. Live imaging of active cultures captured the excystation and egress of juvenile trophozoites and confirmed the presence of multinucleate cysts. The ultrastructure of the multinucleate cyst is reminiscent of apicomplexan schizonts. Insights gained from the life cycle stages observed in culture allowed the construction of the life cycle of Colpodella sp. Knowledge of the life cycle will aid biochemical and molecular characterization of Colpodella sp. and help identify stages in human infections.