Alternative morphs and plasticity of vulval development in a rhabditid nematode species

Dev Genes Evol. 2004 Feb;214(2):55-63. doi: 10.1007/s00427-003-0376-y. Epub 2004 Jan 17.


The nematode species Rhabditis sp. SB347 (Family Rhabditidae) in standard culture conditions displays two developmental morphs with distinct modes of sexual reproduction: (1). females and males that develop through four feeding juvenile ("larval") stages; (2). self-fertile protandric hermaphrodites that develop through an obligatory non-feeding third juvenile stage, the "dauer" larva. In females and males, somatic gonad development begins in the first larval stage, whereas in hermaphrodites it is delayed to the second larval stage. Vulval development also differs between females and hermaphrodites: (1). the P8.p cell divides in females but stays undivided in hermaphrodites; (2). the number, timing, and source of inductive signals from the gonad to the vulval precursor cells differ between the two morphs. These results show that discrete vulva developmental routes can be adopted by animals of the same genotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning* / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Embryonic Induction
  • Female
  • Genes, Helminth
  • Gonads / embryology*
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Morphogenesis
  • Rhabditoidea / embryology*
  • Sex Determination Processes
  • Species Specificity
  • Vulva / embryology