Biogeography and character evolution of the ciliate genus Euplotes (Spirotrichea, Euplotia), with description of Euplotes curdsi sp. nov

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Abstract

Ciliates comprise a diverse and ecologically important phylum of unicellular protists. One of the most specious and best-defined genera is Euplotes, which constitutes more than 70 morphospecies, many of which have never been molecularly tested. The increasing number of described Euplotes taxa emphasizes the importance for detailed characterizations of new ones, requiring standardized morphological observations, sequencing of molecular markers and careful comparison with previous literature. Here we describe Euplotes curdsi sp. nov., distinguishable by the combination of the following features: 45–65 μm length, oval or elongated shape with both ends rounded, narrow peristome with 25–34 adoral membranelles, conspicuous paroral membrane, double-eurystomus dorsal argyrome type, 6–7 dorsolateral kineties and 10 frontoventral cirri. Three populations of the novel species have been found in brackish and marine samples in the Mediterranean and the White Sea. We provide the SSU rRNA gene sequences of these populations, and an updated phylogeny of the genus Euplotes. Using the molecular phylogenetic tree, we inferred aspects of the biogeographical history of the genus and the evolution of its most important taxonomic characters in order to provide a frame for future descriptions. Ultimately, these data reveal recurrent trends of freshwater invasion and highlight the dynamic, yet convergent, morphological evolution of Euplotes.

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Syberg-Olsen, M. J., Irwin, N. A. T., Vannini, C., Erra, F., Di Giuseppe, G., Boscaro, V., & Keeling, P. J. (2016). Biogeography and character evolution of the ciliate genus Euplotes (Spirotrichea, Euplotia), with description of Euplotes curdsi sp. nov. PLoS ONE, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165442

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