Localisation of heavy metals in the midgut epithelial cells of Xenillus tegeocranus
Sites of intracellular metal deposition in the midgut ventriculus and in the proventricular glands of Xenillus tegeocranus (Hermann, 1804) (Acari: Oribatida) were studied by TEM. The study aimed to obtain new information on the ultrastructural features of heavy metal compartmentalisation and elimination mechanisms in oribatid mites. Specimens of X. tegeocranus were collected from an abandoned mining and smelting area and from an unpolluted site. A large number of electron-dense granules (EDGs) were detected: concentric spherocrystals were observed mainly in the epithelium of the midgut ventriculus, while homogeneous dark granules were found exclusively in proventricular gland cells. The elemental composition of EDGs, studied by X-ray microanalysis, showed that midgut cells of X. tegeocranus can store metals (Fe, Mn, Zn, Ni, and Cu) in granules. The chemical composition of EDGs seems to be influenced by the presence and bioavailability of heavy metals in soil, with different kinds of metals accumulating in different types of granules.