Ultrastructure and 28S rDNA Phylogeny of Two Gregarines: Cephaloidophora cf. communis and Heliospora cf. longissima with Remarks on Gregarine Morphology and Phylogenetic Analysis

Timur G. Simdyanov,

Andrei Y. Diakin,

Vladimir V. Aleoshin


18S rRNA gene sequences (SSU rDNA) in gregarines are problematic for phylogenetic analysis, mainly due to artifacts related to long branch attraction (LBA). In this study, we sequenced 18S rRNA (SSU rRNA), 5.8S rRNA, and 28S rRNA (LSU rRNA) genes of two gregarine species from crustacean hosts (gregarine superfamily Cephaloidophoroidea): Cephaloidophora cf. communis from a marine cirripedian Balanus balanus (White Sea), and Heliospora cf. longissima from the freshwater amphipods, Eulimnogammarus verrucosus and E. vittatus (Lake Baikal). Phylogenetic analyses of SSU rDNA sequences failed to produce a robust tree topology, for a limited taxon sample (31 operational taxonomic units (OTU), based on 1,604 sites), while LSU (2,869 sites), and concatenated dataset based on SSU, 5.8S, and LSU (4,627 sites) produced more consistent tree topologies for the same taxon sample. Analyses testing for LBA-influence were negative, therefore we suggested that the main reason of the failed topologies in SSU rDNA analyses is insufficient data (insufficient taxon sampling and limited molecular data), rather than LBA. Possible advantages of Bayesian analyses, compared to Maximum Likelihood, and usage of LSU rDNA within the context of apicomplexan phylogenetics were discussed. One of the advantages of LSU is likely its lower rate of evolution in long-branching apicomplexans (e.g., gregarines), relative to other (non-long-branching) apicomplexans, compared to SSU rDNA. Ultrastructure of the epicytic folds was studied. There are 3 to 5 apical arcs (also known as rippled dense structures) and 2 to 5 apical filaments in the tops of the folds. This small number of the apical structures fits into morphological diversity of the epicyte in other Cephaloidophoroidea, but this is not a synapomorphy of the group because this was also detected in several unrelated gregarines. C. cf. communis was found to contain a septum between the epimerite and the protomerite, which has not been reported in other gregarines. More exact terminology, which takes into account number of body sections and septa, is proposed for morphological descriptions of trophozoites and free mature gamonts of gregarines. In accordance with this, C. cf. communis gamonts are tricystid and biseptate, whereas H. cf. longissima gamonts are tricystid and uniseptate, similar to other eugregarines.

Słowa kluczowe: Apicomplexa, gregarines, crustacean host, morphology, ultrastructure, LSU rDNA, molecular phylogeny

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