Ancylostomatoidea Structure and Function

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Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Nematoda
Class Secernentea
Order Strongylida
Super-family Ancylostomatoidea
Family Ancylostomatidae

General Appearance

Ancylostoma - Courtesy of the Laboratory of Parasitology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

The superfamily Ancylostomatoidea contains the 'hookworms', 1-2 cm long bursate nematodes which, together with the Strongyloidea and Trichostrongyloidea, belong to the order Strongylida.

Unlike the rest of the Strongyloidea, the head is bent dorsally so that the buccal cavity forms a characteristic 'hook'. Members of the family have large buccal cavities which often contain teeth and cutting plates to allow the adult worms to embed their heads deeply into the mucosa of the small intestine. The large buccal cavity can be easily identified under the microscope and the configuration of teeth and cutting plates can be used to identify individual species.

Almost all hookworm eggs are oval in shape and around 50 um in diameter. The shell membrane is thin and transparent and, by the time the egg is passed in the faeces, it contains a segmented ovum at the 4 or 8 cell stage. In a tropical climate, the egg will hatch within 24 hours and only L1 larvae will then be detectable.

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