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Protist. 2010 Jul;161(3):466-78. doi: 10.1016/j.protis.2009.12.005. Epub 2010 Feb 25.

Molecular phylogeny of noctilucoid dinoflagellates (Noctilucales, Dinophyceae).

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Marine Microbial Ecology Group, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS UMR 7093, Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche, Station Zoologique, BP 28, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France.


The order Noctilucales or class Noctiluciphyceae encompasses three families of aberrant dinoflagellates (Noctilucaceae, Leptodiscaceae and Kofoidiniaceae) that, at least in some life stages, lack typical dinoflagellate characters such as the ribbon-like transversal flagellum or condensed chromosomes. Noctiluca scintillans, the first dinoflagellate to be described, has been intensively investigated. However, its phylogenetic position based on the small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) sequence is unstable and controversial. Noctiluca has been placed either as an early diverging lineage that diverged after Oxyrrhis and before the dinokaryotes -core dinoflagellates- or as a recent lineage branching from unarmoured dino fl agellates in the order Gymnodiniales. So far, the lack of other noctilucoid sequences has hampered the elucidation of their phylogenetic relationships to other dino fl agellates. Furthermore, even the monophyly of the noctilucoids remained uncertain. We have determined SSU rRNA gene sequences for Kofoidiniaceae, those of the type Spatulodinium (=Gymnodinium) pseudonoctiluca and another Spatulodinium species, as well as of two species of Kofoidinium, and the first gene sequence of Leptodiscaceae, that of Abedinium (=Leptophyllus) dasypus. These taxa were collected from their type localities, the English Channel and the NW Mediterranean Sea, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses place the Noctilucales as a monophyletic group at a basal position close to parasites of the Marine Alveolate Group I (MAGI) and the Syndiniales (MAGII), before the core of dinokaryotic dinoflagellates, although with moderate support.

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