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Eur J Protistol. 2007 Nov;43(4):295-314. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

A comparative fine structural and phylogenetic analysis of resting cysts in oligotrich and hypotrich Spirotrichea (Ciliophora).

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Universität Salzburg, FB Organismische Biologie, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, A-5020, Salzburg, Austria.


So far, neither morphology nor gene sequences have provided a reliable classification of halteriid and hypotrichid spirotrichs. Thus, we performed a comparative study on the fine structure of the resting cysts in some representative species, viz., the oligotrichs Halteria grandinella and Pelagostrombidium fallax and the oxytrichid hypotrichs Laurentiella strenua, Steinia sphagnicola, and Oxytricha granulifera. Main results include: (i) there are three different, very likely non-homologous cyst surface ornamentations, viz., spines (generated by the ectocyst), thorns (generated by the mesocyst), and lepidosomes (produced in the cytoplasm); (ii) Halteria has a perilemma; (iii) Halteria, Meseres and Pelagostrombidium have fibrous lepidosomes, while those of Oxytricha are tubular; (iv) the cyst wall structure of Pelagostrombidium and Strombidium is distinctly different from that of halteriids and oxytrichids, which are rather similar in this respect; (v) cyst ornamentation does not provide a reliable phylogenetic signal in oxytrichid hypotrichs because ectocyst spines occur in both flexible and rigid genera. The new observations and literature data were used to investigate the phylogeny of the core Spirotrichea. The Hennigian argumentation scheme and computer algorithms showed that the spirotrichs are bound together by the macronuclear reorganization band, the subepiplasmic microtubule basket, and the apokinetal stomatogenesis. The Hypotrichida and Oligotrichida are united by a very strong synapomorphy, viz., the perilemma, not found in any other member of the phylum. Halteriid and oligotrichid spirotrichs form a sister group supported by as many as 13 apomorphies. Thus, the molecular data, which classify the halteriids within the core hypotrichs, need to be reconsidered.

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