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Nemathelminthes

General Characteristics:

  • The members of Nemathelminthes are pseudocoelomate, vermiform bilaterally symmetrical, unsegmented animals.
  • These animals are in an organ-system grade of body organization.
  • These are free living or parasitic worms. In free living some are aquatic and some are terrestrial.
  • The body is cylindrical, elongated and unsegmented and usually pointed at both ends.
  • The name of the phylum Nematyhelminthes is derived by their resemblance to slender threads.
  • Mostly small sized, some are microscopic and some a meter or more in length.
  • There is sexual dimorphism. Males are always smaller than females.
  • Body is covered by a protective cuticle. It is resistant to the action of digestive juices of the host.
  • The epidermal cells are without cell limits. So the nuclei are scattered in the cytoplasm. Such an epidermis is called syncytium.
  • The body cavity is a pseudocoel, i.e. it is not lined by coelomic epithelium.
  • The alimentary canal is simple, straight with a mouth, anus and specialized pharynx and without digestive glands.
  • Respiration and circulatory systems are absent.
  • Excretory system consists of protonephridia and has excretory canals. Flame cells are absent.
  • Nervous system consists of a nerve ring. Nerve trunks arises form the nerve ring anteriorly and posteriorly.
  • Sense organs occur in the form of papillae and amphids.
  • Sexes are separate. The hind end of the male is usually covered with a cloaca and one or two copulatory spicule. The hind end of the females is straight with anus.
  • Some are oviparous, some are viviparous and still others are ovovivparous.
  • Eggs are covered with chitinous shell and cleavage is determinate and spiral.
  • Life cycle exhibits great variation with or without intermediate host. There is a moulting larval stage in the life cycle.



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