Phylum Nemata

The word Nematoda comes from the Greek words nematos, meaning thread, and eidos, meaning form. Over the years, nematodes have been classified in four different phyla, not always under the same name. There are two contending names for the phylum of nematodes.

In 1919, Cobb named the study of nematodes nematology and therefore wished to rename nematodes nemata. Cobb also placed nematodes in their own phylum, the phylum Nemata. However, when nematodes were placed in the phylum Aschelminthes, they were classified as class Nematoda (along with class Rotifera, class Gastrotricha, class Kinorhyncha, class Priapulida and class Nematomorpha). In 1932, Potss elevated class Nematoda to the level of phylum, leaving the name the same. While both names have been used (and are still used today), many believe (including Maggenti, Luc, Raski, Fortuner and Geraert, 1987) that Nemata is a more precise name. When a reference is made to Nemata, there is no doubt that it is the phylum being referred to whereas when an author makes a reference to Nematoda, the author could mean either the phylum or the class. In addition, the name Nemata was used first and therefore should be given priority.

While nematodes are generally accepted as being a phylum, debate is still ongoing concerning their relationship to other animals grouped together on the basis of the structure of the body cavity.