Sex Differentiation in Meloidogyne incognita and Anatomical Evidence of Sex Reversal


  • Joanna Papadopoulou
  • A. C. Traintaphyllou


Sex differentiation was studied by examining the cellular structure of gonad primordia extracted from second-stage juveniles developing under different environmental conditions. In female jnveniles, divisions of the two somatic cells of the primordium occurred in mid-sccond stage and resulted in 12 cells. Two of them were differentiated as cap cells, two occupied the anterior central and eight the posterior central part of the V-shaped primordium. The two germinal cells divided at the 6-8 somatic-cell stage of the primordium; i.e., earlier than in any other plant-parasitic nematode. In male juveniles of similar developmental stage, divisions of somatic cells resulted in 10 cells: one cap cell at the posterior tip and nine cells at the anterior part of the rod-shaped primordium. Germinal cells divided at the 6-8 sontatic-cell stage. On the basis of gonad anatomy it was concluded that some female juveniles undergo sex reversal and proceed with further development as males. The degree of expression of intersexual features depends on the period at which sex reversal occurs. Sex reversal at an early period gives rise to males with one testis, almost indistinguishable front true males. Sex reversal at mid-second stage involves degeneration of the nucleus of one of the cap cells resulting in males with an atrophied testis and a well-developed testis. More delayed sex reversal results in males with two testes of approximately equal size. To explain these patterns of development, it is assumed that sex differentiation is hormonally controlled and that the environment influences hormonal balance by affecting gene expression. Key words: sexuality, nematodes, postembryogenesis.