Common Name: Labronema ferox
Scientific Name: Labronema ferox
Species: L. ferox
Some organisms are so small, you can’t see them with the naked eye. There are many of these animals. Not all of them are widely known. Like the nematodes, many people know the name, but many of them do not actually know about these creatures. One of them is called Labronema Ferox. L. Ferox is a nematode that lives in the moist condition of a cotton plant’s roots. Most nematodes prefer this kind of moist environment. This specific type of nematode can live in Europe or more specifically London among other places. Nematodes are roundworms that can be parasitic or free living. While some nematodes live in the ground, others can be injected into your blood by a mosquito or swallowed by a person who did not wash their hands. Usually these nematodes are harmful and can cause disease or sickness to the person who ate it. For example, a certain species of nematodes can cause a disease called elephantiasis. Another type uses a spear like head to rip through muscle and then eats the blood and tissue that is left behind.
L. Ferox is a microscopic organism that can only be viewed through a powerful microscope. They have a spear by their mouth that can be used for ripping and tearing. They are small worms and they are usually clear or a whitish grey color. It has an esophagus and a digestive track inside of it. Instead of a coelom like most worms have, it has a pseudocoelom which means false coelom. This pseudocoelom is in between two tissues called the endoderm and mesoderm tissues. While most are microscopic some can grow to a large size of a meter. Nematodes have simple nerve systems that are nothing but several Ganglia.
Most free living round worms have spines and mouthparts used to catch other organisms. They exchange gases and excrete wastes through their body walls. They do this because they have no transport system inside of them to take the wastes away. Soil dwelling round worms like Labronema Ferox use their long muscles to just push their way through the dirt. All roundworms reproduce sexually and are either male or female. They are predators in their ecosystem and can be parasites. When parasites are eaten they reproduce and lay eggs inside the organism’s organs. Nematodes will eat just about anything they can. When they are free living, they push through the earth or slither through the water to try and find something. When they do find an organism that they can eat, they attack it with a sharp spear like head or simply eat it. While it is a predator, it can still be prey. It can be eaten by a bigger organism. However, it usually doesn’t since they are also a parasitic phylum so they usually end up living long lives.
While this animal may seem boring to you, there were actually some very interesting things that I learned about it. Several diseases are caused by these creatures. For example, the worm Trichinella spiralis can cause trichinosis. When a dog gets infected with worms, it is really a type of roundworm or nematode. Some species can live only in old vinegar; others in German beer mats! Even though scientists have only found about 80,000 species, some estimate that there are about a million all around us. Although the nematode is invisible to us, it is important to be aware of the Nematode. They are very common yet can be dangerous or harmful.
Author: Zach B
Sources: "Labronema Ferox." Biolib. 4 Jan.-Feb. 08 . "Labronema Ferox." Nematode.Edu. 4 Jan.-Feb. 08 . Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph Levine. Biology. 1st ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2007. 689-690. Ramel, Gordon. "The Nematodes (Phylum Nematoda)." Earthlife. 7 Jan. 08. 4 Feb.-Mar. 2008 .
Photo Credit: Peter Mullins http://nematode.unl.edu