Histological Comparisons of Parasitism by Schistonchus spp. (Nemata: Aphelenchoididae) in Neotropical Ficus spp.


  • Barbara J. Center
  • Robin M. Giblin-Davis
  • E. Allen Herre
  • Genevieve C. Chung-Schickler


aphelenchoididae, ficus aurea, ficus glabrata, ficus laevigata, ficus maxima, ficus poponoei, ficus trigonata, fig, floret wall morphology, histopathology, life history, nematode, parasitism, schistonchus spp.


Syconia (enclosed infructescences) infested with host-specific species of Schistonchus (Aphelenchoididae) were collected from six species of Ficus (Moraceae) native to Florida or Panama. They were sectioned and histologically examined to assess the effects of parasitism. Parasitism by Schistonchus spp. was associated with hypertrophied cells, tissue necrosis, and the presence of an exudate in all species. Occasional hypertrophy of the outer epidermal cells occurred on seed florets, wasp florets, and on the endothecial cells of male florets in F. aurea (subgenus Urostigma) from Florida. Aberrations of the inner mesocarp occurred under the hypertrophied cells on seed florets. In F. laevigata (subgenus Urostigma) from Florida, Schistonchus sp. infested immature male florets and was associated with hypertrophy of endothecial cells, epidermal cells of the anther filaments, and anthers. Schistonchus sp. also caused aberrations of the anther filament, anthers, and pollen. Ficus poponoei (subgenus Urostigma) and F. glabrata (subgenus Pharmacosycea), both from Panama, had hypertrophied outer epidermal cells on seed florets. Ficus poponoei also had Schistonchus sp. within the pedicel of an aborted floret, with hypertrophy of the cortical parenchyma. Ficus trigonata (subgenus Urostigma) from Panama had hypertrophy of the outer epidermis of seed florets. When the outer epidermis on these florets was missing, the inner mesocarp was hypertrophied. Ficus maxima (subgenus Pharmacosycea) from Panama had hypertrophy on the outer epidermis of seed and aborted florets. Schistonchus spp. were not found in wasp larvae or pupae in any of the Ficus spp. examined. Hypertrophy was never observed in the absence of Schistonchus spp.