Food Uptake by the Insect-Parasitic Nematode, Sphaerularia bombi (Tylenchida)


  • G. O. Poinar, Jr.
  • Roberta Hess


The insect-parasitic female of Sphaerularia bombi everts its uterus and associated reproductive structures into the body cavity of its bumblebee host. This uterine sac then takes over the normal functions of the parasite and leads an independent existence. An examination of this sac shows that the surface of the uterine cells are differentiated into a network of saccular indentations separating off fine cytoplasmic extensions. The folding of adjacent cytoplasmic extensions around portions of the host's hemolymph results in the formation of pinocytotic vacuoles. Intracellular vacuoles are also formed at the base of the saccular indentations. It appears that the first stage of intracellular digestion in S. bombi initially occurs by pinocytosis in the outer surface of the uterine cells. The inner and outer surfaces of the ovary and oviduct are modified into lobelike projections to increase the absorptive surface area, and electron-dense droplets originating in this tissue were also observed in the developing eggs. The hypothesis is presented that soluble nutrients are passed into the ovary-oviduct tissue where, after being reconstituted into droplets, they enter the developing eggs. Key Words: nourishment, parasite, bumblebee.