Insights into the Phylogeny of the Genus Stentor (Heterotrichea, Ciliophora) with Special Emphasis on the Evolution of the Macronucleus Based on SSU rDNA Data

Markus Thamm,

Stephanie L. Schmidt,

Detlef Bernhard


Representatives of the genus Stentor (Stentoridae, Heterotrichea) are striking ciliates in environmentalwater samples because of their size (up to 4 mm) and their trumpet-like shape. Important for species identification are the following main characteristics: (1) the presence or absence of endosymbiotic algae (zoochlorellae); (2) the colour of the pigmented cortical granules, and (3) the shape of the macronucleus. The complete small subunit rDNA (SSU rDNA) of 19 further representatives of the genus Stentor was sequenced to examine the phylogenetic relationships within this genus and to determine the taxonomic value of these main characteristics. The detailed phylogenetic analyses yielded a separation of all species possessing a single compact macronucleus from those species with an “elongated” macronucleus (moniliform or vermiform). The data also indicate that the uptake of algae as well as the loss of pigmentation happened independently in different lineages. Furthermore, a high level of intraspecific variation within several species was found. Thus, S. muelleri and S. (sp.) cf. katashimai appear to represent distinct species and S. multiformis is composed of a species complex.

Słowa kluczowe: Heterotrichea, Stentor, macronuclear evolution, phylogeny

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