Send to

Choose Destination
J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2006 Nov-Dec;53(6):494-8.

A molecular phylogenetic investigation of zoothamnium (ciliophora, peritrichia, sessilida).

Author information

Department of Biology, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina 27707, USA.


The gene coding for 18S small subunit ribosomal RNA (ssu rRNA) was sequenced in seven free-living, marine species of the sessiline peritrich genus Zoothamnium. These were Zoothamnium niveum, Zoothamnium alternans, Zoothamnium pelagicum, and four unidentified species. The ssu rRNA gene also was sequenced in Vorticella convallaria, Vorticella microstoma, and in an unidentified, freshwater species of Vorticella. Phylogenetic trees were constructed using these new sequences to test a previously published phylogenetic association between Zoothamnium arbuscula, currently in the family Zoothamniidae, and peritrichs in the family Vorticellidae. Trees constructed by means of neighbor-joining, maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian inference methods all had similar topologies. The seven new sequences of Zoothamnium species grouped into three well-supported clades, each of which contained a diversity of morphological types. The three clades formed a poorly supported, larger clade that was deeply divergent from Z. arbuscula, which remained more closely associated with vorticellid peritrichs. It is apparent that Zoothamnium is a richly diverse genus and that a much more intensive investigation, involving both morphological and molecular data and a wider selection of species, will be necessary to resolve its phylogeny. A greater amount of molecular diversity than is predicted by morphological data exists within all major clades of sessiline peritrichs that have been included in molecular phylogenies, indicating that characteristics of stalk and peristomial structure traditionally used to differentiate taxa at the generic level and above may not be uniformly reliable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center