No common name

Nematobothrium texomensis

ORDER Azygiida

FAMILY Didymozoidae

TAXONOMY

Nematobothrium texomensis Mcintosh and Self, 1955, entangled among buffalo fish ovaries, Lake Texoma, Willis, Oklahoma, United States.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

One of a group of worms that are generally long and thin, the adults of this species can reach 8.2 ft (2.5 m) in length. A ventral sucker is not evident and may be lacking in most specimens. it has little musculature, even in its oral sucker, which is completely enclosed in its integument (covering). it is transparent to slightly opaque.

DISTRIBUTION

Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

HABITAT

This species is generally found in the gravid (pregnant) ovaries and occasionally in mature testes of the buffalo fish (Ictiobus species). In some cases, the worm can extend several inches outside the host organism through the fish's genital opening. Including this flatworm species, only a few other didymozoids infect freshwater fishes. Its snail host is unknown as of 2003.

BEHAVIOR

The hermaphroditic adult worms live only as long as the fish remains gravid, and the worms probably shed their eggs as the adults perish and disintegrate into fragments.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Like other parasitic flatworms, this species is dependent on its host, the buffalo fish, to fulfill its nutritional needs.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

N. texomensis reproduces in the spring, shedding its eggs according to the reproductive cycle of its host. Eggs of this species are round and thin-shelled structures ranging from 0.0005-0.001 in (13-30 pm) in diameter. Usually within a few days of being shed, miracidia develop. The miracidia resemble amebas in shape, lack cilia, and move slowly. They are armed with small spines.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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