Enoplea is a class of nematodes, one of two classes that make up the phylum Nematoda in current taxonomy. It is considered to be a more ancestral group than the other class, Chromadorea, and researchers have referred to its members as the "ancestrally diverged nematodes", compared to the "more recently diverged nematodes" of Chromadorea.
Enoplea are distinguished from Chromadorea by a number of characteristics. The enoplean esophagus is cylindrical or "bottle-shaped", compared to the bulbous chromadorean esophagus. Enopleans have pocket-like amphids, while chromadoreans have amphids shaped like slits, pores, coils, or spirals. An enoplean is smooth or marked with fine lines, while a chromadorean may have rings, projections, or setae. The enoplean excretory system is simple, sometimes made up of a single cell, while chromadoreans have more complex, tubular systems, sometimes with glands.
Many enopleans are parasites of plants and animals, including humans. The orders Triplonchida and Dorylaimida include plant parasitic nematodes that are vectors of plant pathogens. The orders Mermithida and Marimermithida include parasites of invertebrates. The orders Dioctophymatida, Trichinellida, and Muspiceida include parasites of vertebrates such as birds and mammals. Examples are Trichinella spiralis, a nematode known for causing trichinosis in humans who consume it in undercooked pork, and whipworms (genus Trichuris), which are parasites of mammals, including cats, dogs, and humans.
Subclasses and orders include:
- Subclass Enoplia
- Subclass Dorylaimia
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