Phylogenetic Analyses Suggest That Psammomitra (Ciliophora, Urostylida) Should Represent an Urostylid Family, Based On Small Subunit rRNA and Alpha-Tubulin Gene Sequence Information

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


The morphologically unique ciliate Psammomitra has long been considered as a systematically uncertain stichotrich. This is mainly because of its highly specialized morphology and a lack of either detailed information concerning its ontogenesis, or molecular data. Based on the small subunit rRNA (SSrRNA) gene and alpha-tubulin gene sequences, we re-evaluated the phylogenetic position of Psammomitra retractilis using multiple algorithms. Phylogenetic trees inferred from the SSrRNA gene sequences representing a total of 53 spirotrichs demonstrated the closest relationship of Psammomitra was with Holosticha-like taxa, with strong support, which clearly suggested that Psammomitra should be placed into the order Urostylida although it branched at a rather deep level, and is likely to be closely related to Holostichidae. With consideration to molecular evidence and morphological characters, Psammomitra should be a clearly outlined taxon at about the rank of family, i.e. Psammomitridae stat. nov., within the order Urostylida. The improved diagnosis for this family is as follows: Urostylida possessing extremely contractile, elongated body which consists of three parts: head, trunk, and slender tail; midventral complex composed of midventral pairs only and restricted to about anterior 1/3 of ventral surface; frontal, frontoterminal, and transverse cirri present; one left and one right marginal rows which commence near proximal end of adoral zone and extend to near rear body end. (C) 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 157, 227-236.

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Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society





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