ZooKeys 181: 67–77, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.181.2787
On the species status of the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne mayaguensis Rammah & Hirschmann, 1988
Gerrit Karssen 1, Jinling Liao 2, Zhuo Kan 2, Evelyn YJ van Heese 1, Loes JMF den Nijs 1
1 Plant Protection Service, Wageningen Nematode Collection, P.O. Box 9102, 6700 HC Wageningen, The Netherlands
2 Plant Nematode Lab, College of Environment and Natural Resource, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, 510642, PR China

Corresponding author: Gerrit Karssen (g.karssen3@chello.nl)

Academic editor: S. Subbotin

received 30 January 2012 | accepted 28 March 2012 | Published 6 April 2012

(C) 2012 Gerrit Karssen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0 (CC-BY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

For reference, use of the paginated PDF or printed version of this article is recommended.


Holo- and paratypes of the root-knot nematodes Meloidogyne mayaguensis Rammah & Hirschmann, 1988 and Meloidogyne enterolobii Yang & Eisenback, 1983 were morphometrically and morphologically compared. All observed female, male and second-stage juvenile morphometrical and morphological characters are identical for the two studied species. Additionally, contradictions between the original species descriptions were unravelled.

The present study of holo- and paratypes confirms the taxonomical status of Meloidogyne mayaguensis as a junior synonym for Meloidogyne enterolobii.


Junior synonym, Meloidogyne, Meloidogyne enterolobii, Meloidogyne mayaguensis, Nematoda, root-knot nematode, sy- nonymisation


In 1983 Yang and Eisenback described the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne enterolobii from roots of pacara earpod trees (Enterolobium contortisiliquum (Vell.) Morong), on Hainan Island in China. The authors reported severe damage on these pacara earpod trees. In 1988 Rammah and Hirschmann described the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne mayaguensis from eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) roots, from Puerto Rico. Meloidogyne mayaguensis was described by the authors as: “superficially resembles Meloidogyne enterolobii”, and reported at the same time “several distinct morphologically features and a unique malate dehydrogenase pattern (N3c)”.

It was Fargette and Braaksma (1990) and Fargette et al. (1996) who reported for the first time on the resistance-breaking behaviour of Meloidogyne mayaguensis in Africa and concluded that it is present in both continents of Africa and America. The authors reported (1996) on Meloidogyne enterolobii: “Meloidogyne enterolobii from China has been described as having the same esterase phenotype as Meloidogyne mayaguensis. However it is not known whether their DNA are closely related”. In 2000 Carneiro et al. published esterase and malate dehydrogenase patterns for a Brazilian population of Meloidogyne mayaguensis, and detected a different (N1a) malate dehydrogenase pattern. Additionally Blok et al. (2002) published mtDNA results from different Meloidogyne mayaguensis populations, including type material from Puerto Rico.

In their comprehensive studies on the characterisation of Meloidogyne species from China, with isozymes and mtDNA, Meng et al. (2004) and Xu et al. (2004) included two Meloidogyne enterolobii populations from Hainan Island, isolated from the fruit tree Guava (Psidium guajava L.). They proved for the first time that Meloidogyne enterolobii esterase (VS1-S1) and malate dehydrogenase (N1a) patterns and mtDNA results are identical to reported Meloidogyne mayaguensis data, and concluded carefully: “the mtDNA sequence evidence presented here, suggests that Meloidogyne mayaguensis could be conspecific with Meloidogyne enterolobii”.

In 2005–2006 we compared the available holo- and paratypes of Meloidogyne enterolobii and Meloidogyne mayaguensis. Meanwhile our Chinese co-authors collected live Meloidogyne enterolobii material on Hainan Island at the type locality from the type host and we kindly received live Meloidogyne mayaguensis type material from Dr. V. Blok (originating from Dr. M. Fargette). The preliminary isozyme and morphological results were presented by the first author during a Pest Risk Analysis meeting on Meloidogyne enterolobii at EPPO in Paris (Anonymous 2008). Additionally this type material of both species was compared at DNA level to Meloidogyne sp. from Switzerland and we identified the Swiss population as Meloidogyne enterolobii (Kiewnick et al. 2008).

Finally, as again at DNA level no differences were found, the two species were synonymised: “The species Meloidogyne enterolobii (syn. Meloidogyne mayaguensis)” and “…of Meloidogyne mayaguensis (junior synonym of Meloidogyne enterolobii)” (Kiewnick et al. 2009).

Although taxonomical not strictly necessary, we present herein a morphological and morphometrical comparison between the holo- and paratype slides of Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii. Additionally we discuss anomalies between the descriptions of Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii.

Material and methods

Holo- and paratype slides (Table 1) originating from USDA Nematode Collection (USDANC), Beltsville, USA were kindly provided by Dr. Z. Handoo. The type slides are in good condition and includes female holotypes, male allotypes, perineal patterns and second-stage juvenile paratypes. These slides were observed by compound light microscopy (Olympus BH-2 and Zeiss Axio Imager), including Differential Interference Contrast and photographed by Leica DMC-50 digital camera. For the overall morphological and morphometrical comparison between the types we focussed on the most differential and supplementary Meloidogyne characters, as described by Jepson (1987) and as previously applied by Karssen (2002). Live type material of both species was propagated and maintained on tomato at the greenhouse of the PPS the Netherlands. This material was studied morphologically (females, males and second-stage juveniles) and used for isozyme electrophoresis (Mdh; EC and Est; EC For details on the preparation of slides and applied electrophoresis method we respectively refer to Karssen (1996) and Karssen et al. (1995).

Table 1.

Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii holo-, allo- and paratype slides studied, including USDANC codes.

Meloidogyne mayaguensis Meloidogyne enterolobii
Holotype 1 female T-428t 1 female T-360t
Allotype* 1 male T-429t 1 male T-361t
Paratype 10 perineal patterns T-3849p 8 perineal patterns T-3147p
Paratype 6 males T-3843p 10 males T-3149p
Paratypes 25 J2’s T-3846/7p 25 J2’s T-3152p

*According to the ICZN rules (4th edition) the allotype concept is no longer valid, and treated herein as a paratype.

Results and discussion

See Figure 1 and 2 for LM photographs of female and second-stage juvenile morphological characteristics.

Figure 1.

LM photographs of perineal patterns of Meloidogyne mayaguensis (A, B) and Meloidogyne enterolobii (C, D). Bar = 25 µm.

Figure 2.

LM photographs of second-stage juvenile tails of Meloidogyne mayaguensis (A) and Meloidogyne enterolobii (B). Bar = 5 µm.

See Table 25 for respectively female, male and second-stage juvenile morphological and morphometrical observations.

Table 2.

Morphological observations of primary female, male and second-stage juvenile characters of Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii holo- and paratypes compared to described data.

Species Meloidogyne mayaguensis Meloidogyne enterolobii
Character described observed
Stylet knobs knobs reniform or transversely elongated, distinctly indented, merging gradually with shaft knobs set off from shaft, and divided longitudinally by groove so that each knob appears as two oval, anteriorly often indented, slightly sloping backward to set off
Perineal pattern round to dorso-ventrally ovoid, dorsal arch rounded, striae fine, single lateral line may occur oval shaped, with coarse and smooth striae, dorsal arch moderately high to high, often rounded, nearly square in some, lateral lines not distinct oval shaped, striae mostly fine, dorsal arch rounded to square, weak lateral line(s) sometimes present
Head shape head not set off, shallowly rounded to truncate, head region high without annulations head cap high and rounded, head region only slightly set off from body head cap high and rounded, head region slightly set off, not annulated
Stylet knobs knobs large, set off from shaft, rounded, sloping backward, dorsal knob base concave knobs large, rounded, distinctly set off, in some specimens each knob divided longitudinally knobs large, ovoid to rounded, slightly sloping backwards
Second-stage juvenile
Stylet knobs knobs small, rounded, set off from shaft, distinctly sloping backward knobs large, rounded, set off from shaft knobs ovoid to rounded, slightly sloping backwards
Tail shape slender, gradually tapering to bluntly rounded tip very thin, tip broad, bluntly rounded slender, posterior part nearly straight and parallel, tapering to rounded tip
Hyaline tail part distinctly set off, often containing small fat droplet at tip clearly defined, a few fat droplets may occur in terminus anterior part not clearly delimitated

The important morphological characters, like female stylet knob and perineal pattern shape do not differ between the species, as can already be observed by comparing the original illustrations between Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii (see original descriptions respectively Fig. 2 A–D & Fig. 3 A–D). This perineal pattern type is not species specific within the genus Meloidogyne and can best be marked as typical for many species within the Meloidogyne incognita-group, including the observed variation within the dorsal part. Additionally we observed a relatively large tail remnant area, free of any striae, just above the covered anus (Fig. 1 A–D). Also the observed stylet knob position variation, slightly sloping backward to set off from the shaft, is a common Meloidogyne feature. Strangely this variation is also clearly visible in the SEM photographs of excised female stylets of Meloidogyne mayaguensis (see original description, Fig. 3 A-C), but not described. With the light microscope one can observe a weak longitudinal indention, for both species, in the female stylet knobs at the anterior side. The reported differences “not divided so conspicuously as those of Meloidogyne enterolobii” as mentioned in the Meloidogyne mayaguensis description (see diagnosis original description), was not confirmed by our observations. Also the described position of one of the Meloidogyne mayaguensis stylet knobs “the dorsal knob is slightly sloping posteriad in lateral view” was not observed by us.


The male head shape for Meloidogyne mayaguensis is described as “not set off”, while a slightly set off head region was observed as described for Meloidogyne enterolobii. Comparing the original SEM pictures of the head for Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii (see original descriptions respectively Fig. 6 A–D & 5 A, B) shows clearly not any differences in head morphology. Also the male stylet knobs have been SEM studied for the original descriptions (Fig. 3 E, F & Fig. 6 B) of both species. Large oval to rounded shaped knobs, slightly sloping backwards are clearly visible. This was also observed by LM for both species, however described as “rounded and set off” for Meloidogyne enterolobii and “set off from the shaft, rounded, sloping backward” for Meloidogyne mayaguensis. The later description of the knobs is rather odd, i.e. set off and sloping backward at the same time!The same results were described and observed for the second-stage juvenile knobs for both species.

Second-stage juveniles

The second-stage juvenile stylet knob size is described as small for Meloidogyne mayaguensis and large for Meloidogyne enterolobii. We indeed observed a larger size variation for Meloidogyne enterolobii stylet knob width (2.5 – 4.0 µm) compared to Meloidogyne mayaguensis (2.2 – 2.9 µm). However when observing live second-stage juveniles, the same large stylet knob width variation was observed for both species.

As for the males, the published SEM second-stage juvenile head shape is absolute identical for Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii (see original descriptions respectively Fig. 7 A–D & Fig. 8 A, B). The tail is distinctly tapering and in the posterior tail (roughly the hyaline tail part) nearly straight and running parallel for both second-stage juvenile paratypes. Also, for both species the hyaline tail part is described as “distinctly set off” or “clearly defined”. We observed for both species however not a clearly anterior delimitated hyaline tail part, in fact the body content runs deep into the hyaline tail part (Fig 2 A, B), as comparable to Meloidogyne hapla (Karssen, 2002). The second-stage juvenile drawings for both species descriptions (Fig. 4 E, F & Fig. 7 E–F) show a clearly delimitated anterior hyaline tail part, while the original photographs (Fig. 5 F, G & Fig. 9 B) do not show this at all. The fact that both descriptions did not include the hyaline tail measurements (a standard procedure), suggest strongly that the hyaline tail part is not clearly defined. Also in live second-stage juveniles we did not observe a clearly defined hyaline tail part (Table 2).


The morphometrical characters between the types of Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii (Table 35), are comparable for the described and observed data, i.e. all mean data are the same or at least within the calculated range. Body length and body width data are generally slightly smaller when comparing observed to described data, this is a well known effect due to a slight shrinking of the nematode body within permanent slides. For Meloidogyne enterolobii males we noticed however an unusual difference in greatest body width between the described 42.3 µm (37–48 µm) and observed 32.0 µm (24–39) µm data. The differences can not only be explained due to a shrinking effect, particularly as the observed greatest body width data agrees with the observed data for Meloidogyne mayaguensis. Also for the Meloidogyne enterolobii female holotype unexplainable differences were noticed between described and observed data for the DGO (3.7 µm versus 4.8 µm) and stylet length (13.4 µm versus 14.7 µm).

Table 3.

Morphometrical (in µm) observations (mean, SD & range) of female Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii holo- (single female) and paratypes (perineal patterns) compared to described data.

Species Meloidogyne mayaguensis Meloidogyne enterolobii
Character description observed description observed
Holotype (N) 1 1 1 1
Body length 720 674 667 693
Body width 570 576 415 462
Neck length 190 168 265 262
Neck width 160 169 -- --
DGO 6.2 6.4 3.7 4.8
Excretory pore tohead end 46.4 45.8 44.8 64.0
Stylet length 15.1 15.7 13.4 14.7
Stylet knob height 2.2 2.0 2.7 2.3
Stylet knob width 4.4 4.5 4.3 4.5
Paratypes (N) 35 10 20 8
Interphasmidial dist. 23.2 ± 2.5 (18.1–29.6) 28.8 ± 3.7 (24.3–33.3) 30.7 ± 4.8 (22.2–42.0) 33.5 ± 7.6 (22.4–41.9)
Vulval slit length 26.1 ± 1.9 (20.9–30.4) 27.0 ± 1.4 (25.0–29.4) 28.7 ± 2.0 (25.3–32.4) 28.0 ± 1.0 (25.9–29.1)
Vulva-anus distance 18.4 ± 1.5 (12.7–21.1) 21.4 ± 3.1 (17.0–27.1) 22.2 ± 1.8 (19.7–26.6) 23.4 ± 1.6 (21.1–26.2)
DGO 4.8 ± 0.8 (3.5–6.7) 4.9 ± 0.8 (3.7–6.2)
Excretory pore to head end 48.2 ± 13.6 (25.9–86.6) 62.9 ± 10.5 (42.3–80.6)
Stylet length 15.8 ± 0.8 (13.8–16.8) 15.1 ± 1.4 (13.2–18.0)
Table 4.

Morphometrical (in µm) observations (mean, SD & range) of male Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii paratypes compared to described data.

Species Meloidogyne mayaguensis Meloidogyne enterolobii
Character description observed description observed
N 30 7 20 11
Body length 1503 ± 142 (1175–1742) 1431 ± 63 (1337–1496) 1600 ± 160 (1349–1913) 1230 ± 316 (865–1667)
Greatest body width 37.8 ± 3.1 (32.2–44.4) 34.5 ± 1.9 (32.0–37.4) 42.3 ± 3.6 (37.0–48.3) 32.0 ± 6.0 (23.7–39.2)
Stylet length 22.9 ± 0.8 (20.7–24.6) 22.1 ± 0.7 (20.8–23.0) 23.4 ± 1.0 (21.2–25.5) 21.5 ± 1.7 (19.2–23.4)
Stylet knob height 3.0 ± 0.3 (2.4–3.7) 3.2 ± 0.3 (2.6–3.4) 3.3 ± 0.3 (2.6–3.9) 2.5 ± 0.3 (2.1–3.2)
Stylet knob width 5.0 ± 0.3 (4.3–5.6) 5.3 ± 0.5 (4.5–5.8) 5.4 ± 0.3 (4.5–5.8) 4.5 ± 0.6 (3.5–5.0)
DGO 4.1 ± 0.4 (3.3–5.0) 4.1 ± 0.7 (3.2–5.1) 4.7 ± 0.4 (3.7–5.3) 4.7 ± 0.6 (3.7–5.8)
Excretory pore to head end 166.4 ± 8.8 (147.2–180.8) 158.6 ± 14.9 (132.5–177.9) 178.2 ± 11.2 (159.7–206.2) 155.8 ± 22.3 (129.9–199.7)
Spicule length 28.3 ± 1.5 (24.4–31.3) 29.0 ± 2.4 (25.6–32.3) 30.4 ± 1.2 (27.3–32.1) 28.0 ± 1.1 (26.2–29.4)
Gubernaculum length 7.1 ± 0.6 (6.1–9.3) 7.5 ± 1.0 (6.4–9.0) 6.2 ± 1.0 (4.8–8.0) 6.5 ± 0.8 (6.1–8.0)
Tail length 14.3 ± 1.1 (11.3–16.3) 13.0 ± 1.1 (10.9–14.7) 12.5 ± 2.2 (8.6–20.2) 11.9 ± 1.2 (10.2–13.4)
A 39.9 ± 3.9 (31.1–49.6) 41.6 ± 2, 9 (37.2–44.7) 37.9 ± 3.2 (34.1–45.5) 38.1 ± 4.0 (30.0–43.4)
C 105.7 ± 10.0 (85.8–124.3) 110.5 ± 10.8 (98.5–133.7) 131.6 ± 24.2 (72.0–173.4) 103.2 ± 23.7 (71.4–135.9)
Table 5.

Morphometrical (in µm) observations (mean, SD & range) of second-stage juvenile Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii paratypes compared to described data.

Species Meloidogyne mayaguensis Meloidogyne enterolobii
Character description observed description observed
N 35 25 30 25
Body length 454 ± 28 (390–528) 420 ± 21 (386–456) 437 ± 17 (405–473) 408 ± 18 (380–442)
Greatest body width 14.7 ± 0.5 (13.8–15.8) 13.9 ± 0.7 (13.1–15.4) 15.3 ± 0.9 (13.9–17.8) 14.8 ± 2.1 (11.0–18.0)
Body width at anus 10.9 ± 0.5 (10.2–12.2) 9.8 ± 0.6 (9.0–11.2) 9.8 ± 0.9 (8.0–11.0)
Stylet length 11.6 ± 0.3 (11.1–12.2) 11.5 ± 0.4 (10.9–12.1) 11.7 ± 0.5 (10.8–13.0) 11.3 ± 0.7 (10.5–13.0)
Stylet base to head end 15.2 ± 0.3 (14.8–15.8) 15.4 ± 0.3 (14.7–16.0) 15.0 ± 0.7 (14.0–16.0)
Stylet knob height 1.5 ± 0.1 (1.2–1.7) 1.6 ± 0.1 (1.3–1.8) 1.8 ± 0.3 (1.5–2.0)
Stylet knob width 2.5 ± 0.2 (2.2–2.9) 2.9 ± 0.3 (2.4–3.4) 3.0 ± 0.4 (2.5–4.0)
DGO 3.9 ± 0.2 (3.3–4.3) 3.7 ± 0.4 (3.2–4.2) 3.4 ± 0.3 (2.8–4.3) 3.8 ± 0.3 (3.0–4.5)
Excretory pore to head end 87.6 ± 3.3 (79.9–97.9) 88.3 ± 3.0 (83.5–95.3) 91.7 ± 3.3 (84.0–98.6) 80.8 ± 4.4 (70.0–88.0)
Tail length 54.4 ± 3.6 (49.2–62.9) 54.2 ± 2.7 (48.7–58.5) 56.4 ± 4.5 (41.5–63.4) 52.1 ± 3.4 (45.0–57.0)
a 30.9 ± 1.9 (26.4–34.7) 30.1 ± 1.6 (26.9–32.8) 28.6 ± 1.9 (24.0–32.5) 28.0 ± 3.7 (23.3–34.6)
c 8.3 ± 0.4 (7.0–9.2) 7.8 ± 0.3 (7.1–8.4) 7.8 ± 0.7 (6.8–10.1) 7.9 ± 0.6 (7.0–9.0)
Excretory pore (%) 19.4 ± 1.0 (17.8–22.3) 21.1 ± 0.9 (19.2–22.7) 19.8 ± 1.1 (17.6–21.9)

The described and discussed Meloidogyne mayaguensis differences (see diagnosis original description)within the female perineal pattern for the interphasmidial distance, vulval slit length and vulva-anus distance is not confirmed by our observations. All these measurements are within the observed range. Perineal pattern measurements are generally highly variable and a logical reason for Jepson (1987) not to list this type of data when discussing differential characters for the genus Meloidogyne.

Reproduction and cytogenetics

The two species descriptions report also on the mode of reproduction and number of chromosomes, both reproduce by mitotic parthenogenesis (= apomixes) and have a somatic chromosome number of 2n = 44–45 for Meloidogyne mayaguensis and 2n = 44–46 for Meloidogyne enterolobii. In conclusion, both species have the same mode of reproduction and somatic chromosome number.

Host plants

Additionally, both species descriptions report in their introduction part some hosts, i.e. they both previously applied the North Carolina differential host test (Hartman and Sasser 1985). Both species showed the same positive host response for tobacco, pepper, watermelon and tomato and no host response on peanut. Beside this, Meloidogyne mayaguensis did not infest cotton, while Meloidogyne enterolobii moderately infested cotton. As the details of the previously applied host tests have not been described in the material and method part of the species descriptions, we can not explain the reported host response differences on cotton for Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii. Interesting is the Meloidogyne mayaguensis study by Brito et al. (2004) with four isolates from Florida (USA). All four isolates, maintained on tomato, reproduced also on cotton, tobacco, pepper and watermelon but not on peanut, i.e. identical to the published results for Meloidogyne enterolobii.


The observed esterase (VS1-S1 type) and malate dehydrogenase (N1a type) isozyme patters are identical for both species and agrees with previous results (Carneiro et al. 2000; Xu et al. 2004).


In conclusion, the holo- and paratype material of Meloidogyne mayaguensis and Meloidogyne enterolobii is morphological and morphometrical identical and it confirms the taxonomical status of Meloidogyne mayaguensis as a junior synonym for Meloidogyne enterolobii.


This work was supported by the special fund for agro-scientific research in the public interest of China (grant no. 201103018).

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