Circulating hemocytes from larval stages of the paper wasp Polistes dominulus were characterized by light and transmission electron microscopy. Three types were identified: prohemocytes, plasmatocytes and granulocytes. The first two are agranular cells while the latter present typical cytoplasmic inclusions called granules. Plasmatocytes differ from prohemocytes being larger, showing lower nucleus/cytoplasm ratio and they possess many phagolysosomes. The substantial uniformity of most subcellular features and the presence of "intermediate forms" support the "single-cell theory" i.e., there is only one cell line that originates from the prohemocyte and leads to the granular cell passing through the plasmatocyte. This hypothesis seems to be confirmed by functional tests. Indeed, most part of cells adheres to the glass and is able to phagocytize fluorescent microspheres. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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