Systematic Parasitology

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Redescription, generic allocation and synonymy of Decorataria magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) n. comb. (Nematoda: Spirurida: Acuariidae), a parasite of the roseate spoonbill Platalea ajaja L. (Aves: Threskiornithidae) in South America

  • Yasen Mutafchiev
  • Boyko B. Georgiev


Decorataria magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) n. comb. is proposed for Dispharagus magnilabiatus Molin, 1860 [= Acuaria (Cheilospirura) magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Railliet, Henry & Sisoff, 1912; Cheilospirura magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Stiles & Hassall, 1920; Dispharynx magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Gendre, 1920] (Nematoda, Spirurida, Acuariidae), a parasite of the roseate spoonbill Platalea ajaja L. (Ciconiiformes, Threskiornithidae) known from Brazil, France (bird in captivity), Argentina and Cuba. The species is redescribed and illustrated on the basis of the type-series (from Brazil) in the Helminthological Collection of the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna. Syncuaria diacantha Petter, 1961 [= Decorataria diacantha (P.) Skryabin, Sobolev & Ivashkin, 1965], originally described from Platalea ajaja in France (bird in captivity), is recognised as a junior synonym of Decorataria magnilabiata (new synonymy).


Molin Buccal Cavity Excretory Pore Female Reproductive System Generic Allocation 
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Dispharagus magnilabiatus Molin, 1860 was described from Platalea ajaja L. in Brazil (Molin, 1860). Stiles & Hassall (1905) considered Dispharagus Dujardin, 1845 as a synonym of Acuaria Bremser, 1811. Railliet et al. (1912) recognised D. magnilabiatus as a member of Acuaria Bremser, 1811 and proposed the combination Acuaria (Cheilospirura) magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Railliet, Henry & Sisoff, 1912; later, Stiles & Hassall (1920) regarded Cheilospirura Diesing, 1861 as a distinct genus. Gendre (1920) transferred this species to Dispharynx Railliet, Henry & Sisoff, 1912 as Dispharynx magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Gendre, 1920. The morphology of the species has been known only from its brief original description (Molin, 1860). Since some important morphological characters of D. magnilabiata have remained undescribed, its generic allocation is controversial and needs further studies. The aim of the present article is to report the results of the re-examination of the type-series of D. magnilabiata from the collection of the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, and to discuss its synonymy and generic allocation in view of new information on its morphology.

Materials and methods

The following type-specimens from the helminthological collections of the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria (NMV) and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France (MNHN) were studied:

Dispharagus magnilabiatus Molin, 1860; NMV Evertebrata no. 6564 (syntypes), 4 males and 5 females, from Platalea ajaja L., type-locality “Villa Maria” (= Cáceres, Mato Grosso), Brazil, 7 August 1825, coll. J. Natterer.

Syncuaria diacantha Petter, 1961; MNHN no. 247BA (syntypes), 11 males and 3 females, from Platalea ajaja L. (zoo bird from the Jardin des Plantes, Paris).

For light-microscopical observations, specimens were cleared and examined as temporary mounts in glycerine (NMV sample) or lactophenol (MNHN sample).

Metrical data are given in micrometres, unless otherwise indicated, as the range, with the mean and the number of measurements taken (n) in parentheses. The following indices were used: cordon length/body length = ICL/BL; length of muscular oesophagus/length of glandular oesophagus = ImOE/gOE; length of oesophagus/body length = IOE/BL; length of caudal alae/body length = ICA/BL; length of left spicule/length of right spicule = ILSP/RSP; distance from vulva to posterior end/body length = IV/BL.

Decorataria magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) n. comb.

Syns Dispharagus magnilabiatus Molin, 1860; Acuaria (Cheilospirura) magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Railliet, Henry & Sisoff, 1912; Cheilospirura magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Stiles & Hassall, 1920; Dispharynx magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) Gendre, 1920; Syncuaria diacantha Petter, 1961, new synonymy; Decorataria diacantha (Petter, 1961) Skryabin, Sobolev & Ivashkin, 1965

Redescription of the type-series of Dispharagus magnilabiatus (Figs. 18)

General. Medium-sized acuariid nematode. Anterior end with 2 triangular pseudolabia, each bearing single amphid and pair of papillae. Cordons arise dorsally and ventrally between pseudolabia, extending posteriorly in longitudinal direction and anastomosing laterally at about level of junction of muscular and glandular oesophagus (Figs. 1, 2); cuticular plates with increasing width in posterior direction, reaching maximum size in posterior half of cordons; deep, almost closed longitudinal groove present on outer edge of cordons. Deirids very small, round, c.3 long, situated close to posterior end of cordons (Fig. 5). Pair of spines situated dorsally and ventrally between bases of pseudolabia (Fig. 3). Cuticle 8–12 thick. Distance between cuticular striations 5–6. Buccal cavity elongate. Excretory pore situated close to junction between anterior and middle thirds of muscular oesophagus. Nerve-ring surrounds narrow anterior region of muscular oesophagus. Phasmids subterminal.
Figs. 1–8

Decorataria magnilabiata n. comb. 1. Anterior end, female, lateral view. 2. Anterior end, male, lateral view. 3. Anterior end, female, lateral view; note the pair of spines situated between the bases of the pseudolabia. 4. Posterior end, female, lateral view. 5. Deirid. 6. Egg. 7. Posterior end, male, lateral view. 8. Caudal extremity, male, lateral view. Scale-bars: 1, 2, 7, 500 µm; 3, 50 µm; 4, 1,000 µm; 5, 6, 20 µm; 8, 250 µm

Male (n = 4). Body length 7.9–9.0 (8.5) mm. Maximum width 198–296 (254), at about mid-body. Tail 190–202 (197) long. Body width at level of cloaca 120–151 (132). Cordons 600–720 (658) long, 62–82 (73) wide. Deirids and excretory pore at 648–736 (682) and 315–368 (344), respectively, from anterior end. Buccal cavity 148–205 (180) long, 12–13 wide. Muscular oesophagus 456–592 (520) long, 50–60 (54) wide. Glandular oesophagus 2,662–3,308 (2,923) long, 110–138 (118) wide. Nerve-ring at 164–224 (197) from anterior end. Caudal alae 870–1,138 (949) long; transverse ornamentation distinct beneath posterior part of their dorsal surface; dotted ornamentation under ventral surface in region anterior to precloacal papillae (Fig. 7). Single median sessile precloacal papilla present. Nine pairs of pedunculate caudal papillae, 4 precloacal and 5 postcloacal (Fig. 8); third and fourth pairs of postcloacal papillae form group; sixth pair of postcloacal papillae sessile, smaller, situated between bases of last pedunculate papillae. Left spicule 1,083–1,228 (1,177) long, with acute distal end (Fig. 8); right spicule 290–355 (315) long, with bifurcate distal end (Fig. 8). ICL/BL 0.074–0.083 (0.079); ImOE/gOE 0.171–0.186 (0.178); IOE/BL 0.374–0.448 (0.406); ICA/BL 0.105–0.126 (0.112); ILSP/RSP 3.05–4.06 (3.77).

Female (n = 4, except where otherwise indicated). Body length 12.6–14.2 (13.3, n = 3) mm. Maximum width 302–344 (324), at about mid-body. Tail 78–98 (87) long. Body width 48–80 (69) at anus, 170–221 (192) at vulva. Cordons 808–1,035 (873) long, 80–110 (90) wide. Deirids and excretory pore at 842–1,073 (923, n = 3) and 387–432 (415), respectively, from anterior end. Buccal cavity (measured from anterior end of body) 192–208 (202) long, 18–20 wide. Muscular oesophagus 552–624 (597, n = 3) long, 60–82 (n = 2) wide. Glandular oesophagus 3,043–3,902 (3,381) long, 120–148 (131, n = 3) wide. Nerve-ring at 214–246 (232) from anterior end. Vulva at 170–246 (206) from posterior end (Fig. 4). Female reproductive system monodelphic. Vagina vera short. Vagina uterina long, directed anteriorly, with well-developed circular musculature in walls (Fig. 4), separated from convolute uterus by well-expressed fold. Eggs oval, 28–30 × 18–20 (29 × 19, n = 20), contain fully-developed embryo (Fig. 6). ICL/BL 0.062–0.073 (0.066, n = 3); ImOE/gOE 0.158–0.193 (0.177, n = 3); IOE/BL 0.252–0.319 (0.286, n = 3); IV/BL 0.014–0.019 (0.015, n = 3).


Decorataria Sobolev in Skryabin, Shikhobalova & Sobolev, 1949 was erected as a subgenus of Syncuaria Gil’bert, 1927 (see Skryabin et al., 1949). Its elevation to full generic level was proposed by Skryabin et al. (1965). Chabaud (1975), Wong et al. (1986), Digiani (1999) and Zhang et al. (2003) considered it synonymous with Syncuaria. Decorataria was validated by Smogorzhevskaya (1990) on the basis of differences in the width of the cordons, the size of the deirids and the degree of lateral alae development. Mutafchiev & Georgiev (2008) also recognised Decorataria as valid. The main differences between Decorataria and Syncuaria are the wide cordons of the former vs the narrow cordons in the latter, small, simple deirids in Decorataria vs medium-sized, usually bifurcate deirids in Syncuaria, as well as the absence of lateral alae in Decorataria vs their presence in Syncuaria (see Mutafchiev & Georgiev, 2008).

The species redescribed herein is characterised by wide anastomosing and not recurrent cordons, small deirids, the lack of lateral alae, a vulva close to the posterior end of the body and a monodelphic female reproductive system. These characters correspond with the generic diagnosis of Decorataria (see Smogorzhevskaya, 1990; Mutafchiev & Georgiev, 2008). On this basis, we transfer Dispharagus magnilabiatus to the latter genus as Decorataria magnilabiata (Molin, 1860) n. comb.

In addition to D. magnilabiata, Decorataria currently includes the following two nominal species:
  • D. decorata (Cram, 1927) Skryabin, Sobolev & Ivashkin, 1965 from the Podicipedidae in the Holarctic Region [data summarised by Smogorzhevskaya (1990), Storer (2000) and Mutafchiev & Georgiev (2008)]. As mentioned by Cram (1927), D. decorata can be distinguished from D. magnilabiata by its longer cordons (1,900 vs 632–720 μm in males and 1,900–2,700 vs 808–1,035 μm in females) and the shorter left spicule (457 vs 1,083–1,228 μm).

  • D. diacantha (Petter, 1961) from Platalea ajaja (Threskiornithidae) in France (bird in captivity) (Petter, 1961; Wong et al., 1986), Cuba (Baruš, 1966; Baruš & Lorenzo Hernández, 1970) and Argentina (Digiani, 1999).

D. magnilabiata has similar characters to those of the type-material of D. diacantha, as redescribed by Wong et al. (1986), and confirmed by the re-examination carried out during the course of the present study. We have not presented here the detailed results of our re-examination of the type-series of D. diacantha, as they repeat data given by Wong et al. (1986). Since we were able to measure all of the complete male specimens in the type-series (n = 9), our data show a broader range of variation of the body length (8.7–11.3, av. 9.6 mm) than that reported by Wong et al. (1986) based on four specimens (Table 1). Additional useful data for the types of D. diacantha obtained during the course of the present study are: length of cordons of males 608–824, av. 735 μm (n = 9); body length of females 12.6–13.3 mm (n = 2); and length of cordons of females 800–968 μm (n = 2) (the lengths of the cordons were not reported by Wong et al., 1986). The two series exhibit very good correspondence in the total body dimensions, the lengths of the cordons, glandular oesophagus and spicules, the positions of the deirids, excretory pore and vulva, the size of the eggs, the structure of the spicules and vagina, and the arrangement of the male caudal papillae (Table 1). Some small differences were observed in the length of the tail in both males and females, and the length of the muscular oesophagus and the distance of the nerve-ring from the anterior end in the males (Table 1). These differences are within the limits of intraspecific variation known for acuariid nematodes. On this basis, we recognise D. diacantha as a junior synonym of D. magnilabiata.
Table 1

Metrical data on Decorataria magnilabiata n. comb. from various localities

Reported as



D. magnilabiata


Present study

D. diacantha

France (in captivity)

Wong et al. (1986)

D. diacantha


Baruš (1966)

D. diacantha


Digiani (1999)


n = 4

n = 4

n = 2

Body, length (mm)




Tail, length




Maximum body width




Deirids, distance to anterior end




Excretory pore, distance to anterior end


Nerve-ring, distance to anterior end




Buccal cavity, length



Muscular oesophagus, length




Glandular oesophagus, length




Cordons, length



Left spicule, length




Right spicule, length





n = 4

n = 3

n = 7

Body, length (mm)




Tail, length



Maximum body width




Deirids, distance to anterior end



Excretory pore, distance to anterior end



Nerve-ring, distance to anterior end




Buccal cavity, length




Muscular oesophagus, length




Glandular oesophagus, length



Cordons, length



Distance between vulva and posterior end





28–30 × 18–20

28–30 × 19–20

26–30 × 19–22

* n = 3

The type-material of D. magnilabiata and the sample from France (i.e. the type-series of D. diacantha) are characterised by a longer body and a smaller distance between the anterior extremity and the excretory pore than was found in the specimens from Cuba described Baruš (1966) (Table 1). We consider that these differences are also within the limits of intraspecific variation which occurs in acuariids. The male specimens from Argentina described by Digiani (1999) possessed a markedly shorter right spicule than other samples, but all of the other measurements were similar to those recorded during the course of the present study and those reported by Wong et al. (1986) (Table 1).



Part of this study was carried out using the facilities of the Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna, during the course of a research visit of the senior author funded by SYNTHESYS 2, AT-TAF-330 (EC FP7), and kindly hosted by Dr H. Sattmann. The visit of the senior author to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, was funded by the EC FP7 project WETLANET, Grant No. 229802, and kindly hosted by Dr O. Bain. The study was also partly funded by the National Science Fund of the Republic of Bulgaria, Grant DO/02-271/18.12.08.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem ResearchBulgarian Academy of SciencesSofiaBulgaria

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