Schistonchus caprifici




Rev 09/14/2023

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Morphology and Anatomy Life Cycle
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            Schistonchus caprifici (Gasperrini, 1864) Cobb, 1927

Type speies of the genus.

Schistonchus caprifici is the earliest described aphelenchid.  It has a complex phoretic and parasitic realtionship with the small wasp, Blastophaga psenes (L.), which pollinates the Smyrna fig (see below).

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Morphology and Anatomy:


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


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Economic Importance:


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Feeds, grows and reproduces within inflorescences of caprifig, Ficus carica sylvestris.




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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

The nematode parasitizes and reproduces on caprifig (Ficus carica sylvestris) inflorescences and also in the haemocoel of the fig pollinator wasp Blastophaga psenes.  The process of caprification is the managed pollination of figs that bear pistillate flowers by hanging male flowers from branches to facilitate pollen transfe by wasps.

Staminate and pistillate florets of caprifig infected by S. caprifici exhibited necrosis and cavities in the cortical parenchyma of floret peduncles and stamen filaments. 

Schistonchus caprifici is spread from infected to healthy caprifig inflorescences through oviposition behaviour of the wasp, Blastophaga psenes. Wasp development can occur in inflorescences that are infected with nematodes.  The nematodes colonize and reproduce in the haemocoel of wasp larvae. The nematode persists in the pupae and winged females that developed in the pistillate florets. Wingless male wasps are not infected by the nematode.

Wasp development apparently does not occur in inflorescences of commercial figs although they are visited by ovipositing wasps which vector nematodes in their florets. 

There is no evidence of adverse effect of S. caprifici on B. psenes. However, the association is considered to be a parasitic relationship because of nematode reproduction in the wasp's haemocoel (Vovlas et al., 1992).


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Schistonchus caprifici feeds om pistillate florets of commercial fig (F. carica) as well as caprifig (Ficus carica sylvestris).  Population levels of the nematode were lower  in commercial fig than in caprifig (550 nematodes vs. 12,000 nematodes/g fresh floret tissues, respectively) (Vovlas et al., 1992)..

Nematode infection may result in premature inflorescence decay.


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

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



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Vovlas, N., R. N. Inserra and N. Greco. 1992. Schistonchus caprifici parasitizing caprifig (Ficus carica sylvestris) florets and the relationship with its fig wasp (Blastophaga psenes) vector. Nematologica 38:215-226.

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Copyright © 1999 by Howard Ferris.
Revised: September 14, 2023.