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Protist. 2006 Aug;157(3):279-90. Epub 2006 May 26.

Ebriid phylogeny and the expansion of the Cercozoa.

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Program in Evolutionary Biology, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. <>


Ebria tripartita is a phagotrophic flagellate present in marine coastal plankton communities worldwide. This is one of two (possibly four) described extant species in the Ebridea, an enigmatic group of eukaryotes with an unclear phylogenetic position. Ebriids have never been cultured, are usually encountered in low abundance and have a peculiar combination of ultrastructural characters including a large nucleus with permanently condensed chromosomes and an internal skeleton composed of siliceous rods. Consequently, the taxonomic history of the group has been tumultuous and has included a variety of affiliations, such as silicoflagellates, dinoflagellates, 'radiolarians' and 'neomonads'. Today, the Ebridea is treated as a eukaryotic taxon incertae sedis because no morphological or molecular features have been recognized that definitively relate ebriids with any other eukaryotic lineage. We conducted phylogenetic analyses of small subunit rDNA sequences from two multi-specimen isolations of Ebria tripartita. The closest relatives to the sequences from Ebria tripartita are environmental sequences from a submarine caldera floor. This newly recognized Ebria clade was most closely related to sequences from described species of Cryothecomonas and Protaspis. These molecular phylogenetic relationships were consistent with current ultrastructural data from all three genera, leading to a robust placement of ebriids within the Cercozoa.

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