Rev 27-07-2021

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Morphology and Anatomy Life Cycle
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Bursaphelenchus Fuchs, 1937

As of 2021, over 125 valid species of the genus were recognized (Kanzaki, et al., 2020; Ryss et al., 2021).

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Morphology and Anatomy:


  • Usually long, slender nematodes.
  •  Lip region high, offset from body contour..
  • Stylet with small rounded basal knobs.
  • Excretory pore usually behind median bulb.


  • Monodelphic, prodelphic, postuterine sac usually long.
  • Vulval lips sometimes protruding.
  • Female tail rounded, conoid, or sharply pointed.

Ref: Nickle, 1970.

Go To Dictionary of Terminology 

Males have paired spicules with prominent disc-like expansions (rostra) at distal end.
No gunernaculum.
Usually two pairs of caudal papillae.

Male tail is curved and pointed with short, oval caudal alae at tail tip - hence the genus name. 


Caudal papillae occur throughout the Aphelenchina.


Body size range for the species of this genus in the database - Click:
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Economic Importance:


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Most species of the genus appear to be fungal-feeding, however, there are several plant-feeding endoparasites of aboveground plant parts, including tree trunks. Many have phoretic relationships with insects.

A phoretic relationship with cerambycid bark beetles is frequently observed. For example, the recent discovery in Japan tahat adults of Acalolepta sejuncta and Monochamus saltuarius emerged from pine logs (Pinus densiflora) carrying Bursaphelenchus doui. Other known phoretic vectors of B. doui are M. subfasciatus and A. fraudatris (Aikara et al., 2020).

Several obligate and facultative plant parasitic nematodes occur in the genus Bursaphelenchus e.g., B. xylophilus, the pathogen of pine wilt disease, B. cocophilus, the pathogen of red ring disease, B. sexdentati Ruhm, which has moderate to strong pathogenicity to pine trees, and B. sycophilus, a parasite of fig syconia. The basic morphology of the ingestive/digestive organs in the plant-parasitic species is similar to that of mycophagous Bursaphelenchus species.  However, the plant-parasitic species generally differ in having a more strongly-developed stylet and larger esophageal glands (Kanzaki, et al., 2014).

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For an extensive host range list for this genus, click
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Life Cycle:

For Ecophysiological Parameters for this genus, click 

There areover 100 described species of Bursaphelenchus. Most species have a phoretic relationship with insects, especially bark beetles and wood borers and are associated with dead or dying conifers.

All species feed on fungi.


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Copyright © 1999 by Howard Ferris.
Revised: July 27, 2021.