Molecular phylogeny of Pseudokeronopsis (Protozoa, Ciliophora, Urostylida), with reconsideration of three closely related species at inter- and intra-specific levels inferred from the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene and the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region sequences


  • Editor: Phillip Rainbow

Zigui Chen, Laboratory of Protozoology, KLM, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266003, China.


In order to address the confused taxonomy of morphotypes within the genus Pseudokeronopsis, the small subunit ribosomal RNA (SS rRNA) gene and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1)-5.8S-ITS2 region for 13 populations/clones of morphologically similar Pseudokeronopsis species, Pseudokeronopsis flava, Pseudokeronopsis rubra and Pseudokeronopsis carnea, were sequenced and compared at inter- and intra-specific levels. Different geographical/time interval isolates belonging to the same species were slightly divergent, while clones from the same strain had identical SS rRNA gene sequences. Compared with the SS rRNA gene sequence, the sequence of the ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 region of Pseudokeronopsis revealed higher diversity, with nucleotide dissimilarities of 3.9–4.9% at the intra-specific level and 8.0–10.5% at the inter-specific level. There were several minor differences among ITS2 secondary structures of three Pseudokeronopsis species, while three Pseudok. carnea populations were identical. Phylogenetic analyses using multiple algorithms and different species selections confirm that Pseudok. flava, Pseudok. rubra and Pseudok. carnea form a monophyletic group within the urostylids. The result also supports the closest relationship of Pseudokeronopsis and Pseudourostyla that forms the so-called Acaudalia Berger (2006).