Microscopy - Plasmodium species
Click here for a comparison of characteristics for each of the 4 Plasmodium species.
Plasmodium falciparum ring stage trophozoite
Trophozoites - Plasmodium falciparum:  Early trophozoites have the characteristic signet ring shape.  Also, unique to P. falciparum is the presence of multiple trophozoites in one cell. 
Plasmodium vivax trophozoites
Trophozoites - Plasmodium vivax:  Red blood cells infected by P. vivax are often larger than uninfected red blood cells.  They approximately 1.5 times the size of a normal cell.
Plasmodium malariae ring stage trophozoites
Trophozoites - Plasmodium malariae:  Characteristic trophozoites of P. malariae showing the ring shape and the tendency of infected cells to be of normal or smaller size (arrows).
Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte
Gametocyte - Plasmodium falciparum:  The gametocytes of P. falciparum have a crescent or banana shape.
Plasmodium malariae gametocyte
Gametocyte - Plasmodium malariae:  The gametocytes of P. malariae have a round shape about the size of red blood cells.  They have a fine granular appearance.
Plasmodium ovale gametocyte
Gametocyte - Plasmodium ovale:  A round gametocyte that is larger than normal red blood cells.  It has a granular appearance as well as Schuffner's dots.
Plasmodium malariae schizont
Schizont - Plasmodium malariae:  A schizont containing merozoites (6 to 12) giving a coarse granular appearance.
Plasmodium vivax schizont
Schizont - Plasmodium vivax:  A schizont showing the large number of merozoites typical of this species (16-24).  Also note the larger size compared to a normal red blood cell.
Schuffner's dots in infected cell
A red blood cell showing the Schuffner's dots characteristic of cells infected by Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale.

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