"So, naturalists observe, a flea has smaller fleas that on him prey; and these have smaller still to bite ’em; and so proceed ad infinitum."
- Jonathan Swift

January 6, 2013

Riouxgolvania kapapkamu

Nematodes are commonly referred to as "roundworms" as that describes their cross-section if you were to cleave one right across its mid-section. Other names for nematodes (particularly parasitic ones) include whipworms and threadworms and this reflects their general shape. Unless you examine their anterior or posterior end really closely, most nematodes are quite... boring looking really... basically, a long thin cylinder that is tapered at both ends. So at least on a superficial level, it's a case of "seen one, seen them all" - but not the nematode we are featuring today.

This species of nematode, which has been newly described from some Japanese bats, is quite literally a round worm - as in it is rather rotund (the picture taken from paper shows an adult worm on the left [fig. 1] and a young adult on the right [fig. 2]). They were found while a group of researchers were studying the ecology of Japanese large-footed bats (Myotis macrodactylus) in Esashi, Hokkaido, Japan and they noticed some peculiar swellings on the head and ears of two male bats they were examining. Interestingly, from the way it was described, the method with which the researchers extracted these globular worms sounded not unlike how one might pop a zit or a pimple...

With their stumpy, globular appearance, they look a bit like another species of nematode we featured back in 2010 - Tetrameres sp. But whereas Tetrameres belongs in their own family (Tetrameridae) and lives in the proventriculus (a part of the bird's stomach just in front of the gizzard) of birds, R. kapapkamu belongs to the family Muspiceidae and lives under the skin of bats

There is very little known about nematodes in the muspiceoid family. Once they become infective, the larvae are assumed to burrow their way out of the body of the female worm and escape to the surface of the host skin. There, they might await contact with another host. However, the larvae of muspiceid nematode have also been found inside blood-sucking ticks and insects, but it is unknown if those arthropods play a role in the parasite's transmission, or if they were simply ingested incidentally while the arthropods were taking a blood meal.

Hasegawa H, Satô M, Maeda K, Murayama Y. (2012) Description of Riouxgolvania kapapkamui sp. n. (Nematoda: Muspiceoidea: Muspiceidae), a peculiar intradermal parasite of bats in Hokkaido, Japan. Journal of Parasitology 98: 995-1000.

1 comment: