Embryogenesis in the parasitic nematode Heterodera glycines is independent of host-derived hatching stimulation

Sita Thapa, Jayna A. Patel, Ursula Reuter-carlson, Nathan E. Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Many parasites regulate their development to synchronize their life cycle with a compatible host. The parasitic nematode Heterodera glycines displays incomplete host-mediated hatching behavior wherein some H. glycines individuals hatch only in the presence of a host-derived cue while others hatch in water alone. Furthermore, H. glycines shows variable hatching behavior based on oviposition location. The mechanisms regulating this hatching variability are unknown. In this study, we established a detailed timeline of the H. glycines pre-hatch development from early embryogenesis to the pre-hatched J2. These descriptive data were then used to test hypotheses regarding the effect of host stimulus and oviposition location on pre-hatch development. Results: We found that H. glycines develops from a single-cell egg to a fully formed J2 in approximately 172 hours. The stylet-based mouthpart, which is used to pierce the eggshell during hatching, is not completely formed until late in pre-hatch J2 development and is preceded by the formation of stylet protractor muscles. We also found that the primary motor nervous system of H. glycines did not complete development until late in pre-hatch J2 development. These data suggest possible structural requirements for H. glycines hatching. As expected, exposure of H. glycines eggs to host-derived cues increased the percentage of nematodes that hatched. However, exposure to hatching cues did not affect pre-hatch development. Similarly, we found no obvious differences in the pre-hatch developmental timeline between eggs laid in an egg sac or retained within the mother. Conclusions: The pattern of early embryonic development in H. glycines was very similar to that recently described in the related parasitic nematode Meloidogyne incognita. However, the speed of H. glycines pre-hatch development was approximately three times faster than reported for M. incognita. Our results suggest that hatching stimulants do not affect embryogenesis itself but only influence the hatching decision once J2 development is complete. Similarly, the oviposition location does not alter the rate of embryogenesis. These results provide insight into the primary survival mechanism for this important parasite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalBMC Developmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2017


  • Cleavage
  • Post-embryonic development
  • Root knot nematode
  • SCN
  • Soybean cyst nematode
  • Ventral nerve cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Embryogenesis in the parasitic nematode Heterodera glycines is independent of host-derived hatching stimulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this