This genus was created in 1911 by Dakin He discovered this parasite - Merocystis kathae - in the renal organ of the whelk (Buccinum undatum). Its life cycle has been studied in some detail by other workers.
A second species was described - Merocystis tellinovum - by Buchanan in 1979 but this has since been moved to the genus Pseudoklossia.
There is one species known in this genus.
The life cycle follows a seasonal course. The earliest stages may appear in the kidney any time between March and June. Growth proceeds and sexual differentiation takes place but mature gametes are not found until November, when the first stages of sporogony are first found. Mature spores containing sporozoites are formed in January and become increasingly common up to May. Degenerating stages of spores are common in summer.
The earliest stages within the renal organ are 10 microns in diameter.
To the naked eye the later stages of the parasite have the appearance of a rounded milky white dot.
The trophozoites appear opaque and occasionally granular.
Schizogony occurs in the host cell.
Morphologically sexual differentiation is not detectable until growth is almost complete.
The microgametocyte divides into 32 nuclei. At this stage cleavage of the cytoplasm brings about the formation of uninucleate cytomeres. Nuclear division again occurs within these and these latter divisions form the mircogametes.
The microgamete possesses a dark centre and a lighter ring round the periphery and is released from the host cell.
Fertilzation occurs within the lumen of the renal organ.
Nuclear divisions proceed until a large number of cone shaped nuclei are found below the cell membrane. This cell membrane becomes folded and the nuclei sink in (the oocyst stage). Each is surrounded by a portion of cytoplasm to form a sporoblast. A single nuclear division then occurs and the two nuclei elongate to form sporozoites each with a small cytoplasmic body.
- Dakin WJ (1911) Notes on a new coccidian Merocystis kathae (n. gen. et sp.,) occuring in the renal organ of the whelk. Arch. Protist XXIII: 1115
- Patten R (1935) The life history of Merocystis kathae in the whelk, Buccinum undatum. Parasitology 27 (3) 399-430 http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031182000015328