Ultrastructure of the Feeding Apparatus of Rhabdodemania minima Chitwood, 1936 (Enoplida: Rhabdodemaniidae)


  • W. Duane Hope


The feeding apparatus of the marine nematode R:habdodemania minima Chitwood, 1936 has been examined with light and transmission electron microscopy. The buccal capsule consists of a posterior region with smooth walls bearing three sets of three minute denticles at its posterior end and three large onchia in its mid region; a middle region with grooved walls; and an anterior region with costae and six odontia. The anterior and middle portions of the buccal capsule are enveloped by the cephalic cuticle, whereas the posterior region, which is set off from the middle region by a buccal seam, is partially enveloped by the anterior end of the esophagus. Two subventral esophageal glands open into the lumen of the esophagus. Secretions of each of three paraesophageal glands are conveyed through a duct in each of the three corresponding corners of the buccal wall to an opening between labia. A pair of wing-like thickenings, termed pterons, embraces the duct of each paraesophageal gland in the posterior and middle regions of the buccal capsule. A model of how the buccal capsule operates is proposed and tested. Morphological and functional aspects of the buccal apparatus and cephalic cuticle are compared with those of other taxa of the Enoplida, and their phylogenetic implications are discussed. Key words: buccal capsule, cephalic cuticle, comparative morphology, esophagus, feeding apparatus, functional morphology, gland, marine nematode, morphology, Rhabdodemania minima, ultrastructure.