Round worms, which can also be called nematodes, are a species of worms that have a long, round body. They are worms that can vary in length from several millimeters to two meters. Round worms are common to be found in warm tropical countries. Children are more often affected than adults. Treatment is usually very effective but eliminating intestinal worm infections is always a fairly difficult process.
The most outstanding characteristics of nematodes are the following:
Nematodes can be classified as follows, according to the different investigations carried out on them:
These worms are cylindrical and long in shape, with bilateral symmetry. Their internal structure is relatively simple and consists of an internal intestine and an external muscular wall, which are separated by a pseudo cell, which is a cavity that is filled with fluid. Their length varies from microscopic to 10 cm.
In the wall of their body, we can find a cuticle covered with collagen for protection, an epidermis that can be cellular or syncytial where the excretory ducts are located, a basal membrane and a lot of musculature below the epidermis that connect the nervous system with the muscular arms; finally, they have a pseudocoeloms of reproductive organs that functions as a type of skeleton.
Nematodes can be fed with different types of materials. They can eat mushrooms, algae, some animals that are very small in size, they are scavengers so they can eat fecal material and remains of other animals and insects.
The reproduction of these animals is done through parthenogenesis, however, most of the time they do it sexually. It is quite common to be able to distinguish the sex of nematodes, although some species are hermaphrodites. During sexual intercourse, the male extends a spicule from his mouth and enters the female’s genital pore. When females become pregnant, they can gestate hundreds of offspring by means of eggs.
Nematodes do not have any type of established respiratory organs and adults who have managed to position themselves and live as intestinal parasites are anaerobic, so they do not need oxygen, however, if oxygen is present they use it.
Nematodes do not have any type of circulatory or vascular system. Nutrients travel through the pseudocoeloms which is driven by body movements and locomotion.
They have a ring of nerves located around the pharynx and from it arise different nervous ramifications. They also have sensory papillae, photoreceptor organs, and some have nerve and sensory glands.
Some of the diseases caused by nematodes are as follows:
The most common are, for example: Meloidogyne sp., Pratylenchus sp., Ditylenchus sp., Heterodera sp., Tylenchus sp. (in fruit trees). They damage the roots of plants and occur in greater quantities in sandy, hot and abundantly irrigated soils. They are sensitive to drought and cannot live without vegetation. In general, the plants lose their color or acquire a yellow tone, are malnourished and do not develop properly.
Some nematodes are not completely harmful, for example, worms help eliminate insect pests that are in the soil where crops are planted because they have a bacterium that can kill insects in as little as 48 hours. They do not affect humans and can eliminate weevils, fungi, mosquitoes, soil flies, some other types of worms and fleas.
The nematode species are: