Trophozoite Motility and the Mechanism of Attachment

  • Stanley L. Erlandsen
  • Dennis E. Feely


Over 300 years ago, the first description of the free swimming movement of the intestinal protozoan Giardia was made according to Dobell (1920, 1932) by the great Dutch microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek, who described his observations on enteric “animalcules” or microorganisms in a famous letter addressed to Robert Hooke, Secretary of the Royal Society of London, on November 4, 1681. In this letter, Leeuwenhoek described his usually good health, but remarked that he had been bothered by a looseness of stools sometimes lasting for 3 days and that he was unable to keep food in his body for longer than 4 hours. Leeuwenhoek on several occasions examined his stools because of their watery nature (a classic sign of giardiasis). In his letter to the Royal Society, he recorded the following description of the presence and movement of “living animalcules in his excrements” which Dobell (1920) has shown to be the first known account of Giardia:

... wherein I have sometimes also seen animalcules a-moving very prettily; some of ’em a bit bigger, others a bit less, than a blood-globule, but all of one and the same make. Their bodies were somewhat longer than broad, and their belly, which was flatlike, furnisht with sundry little paws, wherewith they made such a stir in the clear medium and among the globules, that you might e’en fancy you saw a pissabed running up against a wall; and albeit they made a quick motion with their paws, yet for all that they made but slow progress.


Contractile Protein Focal Contact Morphological Group Intestinal Villus Lateral Flexion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley L. Erlandsen
    • 1
  • Dennis E. Feely
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, School of MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Oral Biology, College of DentistryUniversity of Nebraska Medical CenterLincolnUSA

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