AntWiki: The Ants --- Online
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Ants can serve as developmental, definitive, intermediate, or carrier hosts of a variety of nematodes. Parasitic ant nematodes include members of the families Mermithidae, Tetradonematidae, Allantonematidae, Seuratidae, Physalopteridae, Steinernematidae, and Heterorhabditidae. Those nematodes that are phoretically associated with ants, internally or externally, are represented by the Rhabditidae, Diplogastridae, and Panagrolaimidae. Fossils of mermithids, tetradonematids, allantonematids, and diplogastrids associated with ants show the evolutionary history of these relationships, some of which date back to the Eocene (40 mya). (Poinar, 2012)

Photo Gallery

  • Borowiec and Salata 2015 F6.jpg
  • Mermithid exposed in the gaster of Camponotus sp. from the Sierra Nevada, California (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 2).
  • Parasitic juveniles of Allomermis solenopsi removed from the gaster of a fire ant worker. Photo courtesy of S. D. Porter, USDA-ARS (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 2).
  • The fossil nematode, Heydenius formicinus, emerging from a male Prenolepis henschei in Baltic amber (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 3).
  • Heydenius formicinus adjacent to its worker ant host in Baltic amber (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 4).
  • Heydenius myrmecophila adjacent to its Linepithema ant host in Dominican amber (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 5).
  • Two mermithid-infected soldiers (mermithostratiotes) (arrows) of Pheidole pallidula adjacent to smaller workers and an uninfected soldier (with large head). Note smaller heads on infected soldiers. Photo courtesy of Luc Passera (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 7).
  • Pheromermis villosa in a carpenter ant from Holland (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 8).
  • Mature female of Myrmeconema neotropicum in the early stages of egg production removed from a pupa of Cephalotes atratus. Arrow shows position of vulva (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 9).
  • Mature females of Myrmeconema neotropicum packed with eggs in the gaster of a Cephalotes atratus worker in Peru (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 10).
  • Eggs of Myrmeconema neotropicum released from the gaster of an infected Cephalotes atratus worker in Peru (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 11).
  • Worker of Cephalotes atratus infected with Myrmeconema neotropicum. The raised, red abdomen occurs when the nematode eggs are infective and ready for transport by birds. Photo courtesy of Stephen P. Yanoviak (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 12).
  • Worker of Cephalotes serratus infected with Myrmeconema antiqua in Dominican amber. Note microscopic eggs widely distributed in the amber that were released from a hole in the ant’s gaster (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 13).
  • Detail of eggs of Myrmeconema antiqua in various stages of development in Dominican amber (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 14).
  • Female of the allantonematid Formicitylenchus oregonensis removed from the body cavity of Camponotus vicinus in Oregon, USA (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 15).
  • Parasitic female of an undescribed allantonematid from workers of Cephalotes christopherseni in Peru (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 17).
  • Three dauer juveniles of Formicodiplogaster myrmenema adjacent to a worker of Azteca alpha in Dominican amber (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 23).
  • Detail of a dauer juvenile of Formicodiplogaster myrmenema adjacent to a worker of Azteca alpha in Dominican amber (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 24).
  • Developing stages of Steinernema carpocapsae removed from the body of an infected queen of Solenopsis invicta (Poinar, 2012, Fig. 25).
  • From: Steiner et al. 2019; five immature nematodes removed from a worker of Myrmica sabuleti trapped in a pitfall near Jena, Germany.

Pheidole symbiotica

These nemotodes are known from a variety of ants. Borowiec and Salata (2015) found that the workers of the previously described species Pheidole symbiotica were simply workers of Pheidole pallidula that were infested with mermithid nematodes.

Sommimyrma symbiotica

Csosz (2012) - Bolton (1988) reported that the holotype of Sommimyrma symbiotica might have been a developmentally abnormal specimen, avoiding any further speculations. According to the images (Figs. 1a, b) probably two or three nematode worms (confirmed by nematologists, Gábor Majoros and George Poinar) nearly completely fill in the gaster of the type individual. The worms are not completely developed; these parasites apparently did not attain the preadult stage. In general characteristics of external morphology the symbiotica holotype specimen is reminiscent of the workers or mermithogenic phenotypes of Myrmica scabrinodis, hence I conducted a PCA based morphometric comparison of the type with both infested and uninfected classes of M. scabrinodis. Results demonstrate that M. symbiotica holotype is nested in the cluster of infested M. scabrinodis individuals (Fig. 2). Based on these results I propose new junior synonymy with M. scabrinodis.

Known Ant Hosts

Ant Nematode Locality Source Notes
Azteca alpha Formicodiplogaster myrmenema Dominican amber Poinar, 2011 Dominican amber
Camponotus aethiops Camponotimermis bifidus Ipateva et al., 1990
Camponotus aethiops Comanimermis clujensis Coman, 1953
Camponotus castaneus Rabbium paradoxus Florida Poinar et al., 1989
Camponotus herculeanus Oscheius dolichurus Ontario Nickle & Ayre, 1966
Camponotus vicinus Formicitylenchus oregonensis Oregon, USA Poinar, 2003
Cephalotes atratus Myrmeconema neotropicum Peru, Panama Poinar, 2007
Cephalotes minutus Agamomermis cephaloti Poinar et al., 2006
Cephalotes serratus Palaeoallantonema cephalotae Dominican amber Poinar, 2011 Dominican amber
Eciton burchellii Agamomermis ecitoni Poinar et al., 2006
Ectatomma ruidum Meximermis ectatommi Poinar et al., 2006
Ectatomma tuberculatum unidentified nematode French Guiana
Formica Diploscapter lycostoma Wahab, 1962
Formica fusca Comanimermis clujensis Coman, 1953
Formica rufa Oscheius dolichurus Janet, 1893; Wahab, 1962
Formica rufa Pristionchus lheritieri Wahab, 1962
Lasius Diploscapter lycostoma Wahab, 1962
Lasius Koerneria histophora Wahab, 1962
Lasius Pheromermis myrmecophila Crawley & Baylis, 1921
Lasius Pristionchus lheritieri Wahab, 1962
Lasius brunneus Diplogasteroides spengelii Kohler, 2012
Lasius brunneus Diploscapter sp. Kohler, 2012
Lasius brunneus Halicephalobus similigaster Kohler, 2012
Lasius brunneus Koerneria histophora Kohler, 2012
Lasius brunneus Oscheius dolichurus Kohler, 2012
Lasius claviger Oscheius dolichurus Nickle & Ayre, 1966
Lasius flavus Oscheius dolichurus Janet, 1893; Wahab, 1962
Lasius flavus Pheromermis villosa Kaiser, 1986
Lasius niger Pheromermis lasiusi Rubstov, 1970
Lasius niger Pheromermis villosa Kaiser, 1986
Linepithema Heydenius myrmecophila Dominican amber Poinar et al., 2006 Dominican amber fossil
Linepithema humile Diploscapter lycostoma Markin & McCoy, 1968
Myrmica rugulosa Diploscapter lycostoma Wahab, 1962
Myrmica scabrinodis unidentified nematode Csosz, 2012 infected ant described as ''Sommimyrma symbiotica'', now ''Myrmica scabrinodis''
Odontomachus hastatus Agamomermis costaricensis Poinar et al., 2006
Pogonomyrmex barbatus Skrjabinoptera phrynosoma Lee, 1957
Prenolepis henschei Heydenius formicinus Baltic amber Poinar, 2002 Baltic amber fossil
Prolasius advena Diploscapter formicidae New Zealand Zhao et al., 2013
Solenopsis invicta Allomermis solenopsi Argentina Poinar et al., 2007
Solenopsis invicta Steinernema carpocapsae Poinar, 2012
Solenopsis invicta Tetradonema solenopsis Brazil Nickle & Jouvenaz, 1987
Solenopsis richteri Tetradonema solenopsis Jouvenaz & Wojcik, 1990
Tetramorium caespitum Oscheius dolichurus Wahab, 1962