Punctodera chalcoensis




Rev 11/21/2022

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           Punctodera chalcoensis Stone, Sosa Moss and Mulvey, 1976


Mexican corn cyst nematode

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Morphology and Anatomy:

Punctodera punctata

Females: Cyst stage present. Body globose, spherical to pear-shaped with short neck and no terminal cone, white color.

 Head with one or two prominent annules. Stylet slender, often curved, with rounded basal knobs. Esophagus strongly developed with massive, circular median bulb with prominent valve.


Two large ovaries filling the enlarged body cavity which in mature females is occupied by eggs.

Cuticle greatly thickened except in head region, covered with a rugose or lace-like pattern of shallow ridges, with a sub-surface pattern of rows of fine refractive punctations.

 Vulva a short transverse slit centered in a circular zone lof thin cuticle - the vulval fenestra.

Anus, a transverse slit smaller than the vulva and dorsal to the vulva in a thin-walled circular anal fenestra .

Eggs retained in body (no egg mass) but a very small gelatinous matrix observed on some specimens.  (Stone et al., 1976).

Cysts pale to dark brown, darkening with age. Thin walls of the vulval and anal fenestrae are lost in old cysts.


Cysts of P. chalcoensis  on corn roots - Photographs by Ignacio Cid del Prado

Drawings of P. chalcoensis from Stone et al., 1976
Cyst with both vulval and anal fenestrae:

Photgraph by Ignacio Cid del Prado Vera

Males:  Typical heteroderid male morphology.

Body vermiform, ventrally curved and twisted through 180° .

 Lateral field with four lines.

Stylet well developed with shallow basal knobs, flat to concave anteriorly.

Single testis.

Spicules greater than 30 µm long, slightly curved, distally pointed. No cloacal tubus.

Tail very short, rounded.

 Reported median body size for this species (Length mm; width micrometers; weight micrograms) - Click:

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Reported from areas above 2000 m in the Mexico, Tlaxcala and Pueblo States of Mexico, mainly in sandy soils.

Probably indigenous to Central Mexico and co-evolved with maize (Stone et al., 1976).


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Economic Importance:

Considered of extreme importance on maize in its area of distribution.  Causes evere plant damage, especially in soils of volcanic origin (McDonald and Nicol, 2005).

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Nurse cell system is a syncytium.

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Corn, Zea mays and teosinte, Zea mexicana.  These were the only hosts out of 300 graminaceous plants tested (McDonald and Nicol, 2005). Note that wheat and many grasses are hosts of the related P. punctata.

Cysts of Punctodera chalcoensis attached to the root of Zea mays
Photograph by Ignacio Cid del Prado Vera


For an extensive host range list for this species, click

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Life Cycle:

Ecophysiological Parameters:

For Ecophysiological Parameters for this species, click If species level data are not available, click for genus level parameters

One generation per year.

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 Heavily attacked Zea mays plants have stunted root systems with many short laterals. Aerial parts of the plants appear unthrifty.

Greater damage is observed when rainy season starts early after planting than when onset of rain is delayed, possibly be due to greater hatch, mobility and invasion of juveniles in the moister soil.



No resistance was found in a wide range of maize varieties or in thirteen separate isolates of teosinte (Stone et al., 1976). However, over 300 other graminaceous plants were non-hosts..

Host Plant Resistance, Non-hosts and Crop Rotation alternatives:

For plants reported to have some level of resistance to this species, click


Non-hosts include Avena sativa (7 varieties), A. f atua, Triticum aestivum ( 14 varieties ), Secale cereale (11 varieties ), triticale (12 varieties), Sorghum vugare (119 varieties ), Agropyron spp.(6), Bromus spp. ( 2 ), Dactylis sp., Elymus sp., Festuca spp. (3), Lolium spp. (2) and Phleum sp. (Stone et al., 1976).

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McDonald, A.H. and Nicol, J.M. 2005. Nematode parasites of cereals. Pp131-192 in Luc, M., Sikora, R.A., and Bridge, J. Plant Parasitic Nematodes in Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture.  CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK.

Stone, A.R.; Sosa Moss, C.; Mulvey, R.H. 1976. Punctodera chalcoensis n. sp. (Nematoda: Heteroderidae) a cyst nematode from Mexico parasitising Zea mays. Nematologica, Volume 22:379-38.

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Copyright © 1999 by Howard Ferris.
Revised: November 21, 2022.