Ultrastructural Variation of Cuticular Layers in Cephalobinae (Nemata: Rhabditida)


  • D. Mounport
  • P. Baujard
  • P. De Ley
  • M. C. Van De Velde
  • A. Coomans
  • J. G. Baldwin


acrobeles complexus, cephalobidae, cervidellus alutus, cuticle, nematode, phylogeny, ultrastructure, zeldia punctata


The ultrastructure of the body wall cuticle in Acrobeles complexus, Cervidellus alutus, and Zeldia punctata was studied as a step toward understanding biological diversity within Cephalobinae, and to discover new characters for phylogeny-based classification of the suborder. In each species the cuticle consists of cortical, median, and basal layers. The cortical layer includes an external trilaminate and internal granular zone; the basal layer is striated. In Z. punctata the median layer is electron-lucent, vacuolar, and penetrates the cortical layer; it also includes periodically dense columns that apparently correspond to punctuations visible with light microscopy. In contrast, the median layer of the body wall cuticle in A. complexus and C. alutus is bisected by a zone that undulates parallel to the nematode surface and with periodicity corresponding to annuli. Phylogenetic analysis, using derived cuticle patterns of Cephalobinae, requires an understanding of ecological pressures that could result in convergent evolution of cuticle characters.