Form & Function

Giardia lamblia is a eukaryote, thus it has a true nucleus, as well as membrane bound organelles. This parasite also has a distinct form that is recognizable Smile Balloonwithin the vast parasitic species. With the two ventral adhesion disks each containing a nuclei, along with its pear shaped body and eight flagella, Giarda lamblia looks like a smiling balloon. Being far from what it appears to be, Giardia lamblia is really a flagellated protozoan with a size between 10-20 micrometers for both cyst and trophozoite forms (John, D. et al 2006).

There are two specific forms that Giardia lamblia takes throughout its life. The trophozoite, known as the vegetative form is found in the small intestine of either the human or animal it has inhabited ( 2014). During this form of the parasites life, Giardia lamblia looks like its stereotypical version, containing the pear-shaped body, two ventral adhesion disks and nuclei, and eight flagella.The purpose of these adhesion disks is to attach to the mucosal surface of the small intestine in order to take nutrients from the host (MSU 2014).

Cyst anatomy

During the cyst stage, Giardia lamblia is in the reproductive form, and contains a protective cyst wall made up of two layers; a filamentous layer, and a inner membranous layer, along with four nuclei(Microbewiki). This stage of Giardia lamblia is non-motile because of the lack of flagella, and is present in the fecal matter of its host.

Trophozoite anatomyThe four pairs of flagella control movement on the trophozoite stage of the parasite. There is a set of anterior flagella, ventral flagella, posteroloater flagella, and caudal flagella (American Society of Mibrobiology 2014). Since these flagella are located around the entirety of the organism, Giardia lamblia are able to move easily throughout the body during this stage in its life.


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