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Keywords:

  • 16S rDNA;
  • 18S rDNA;
  • Attheya;
  • Bacillariophyta;
  • Biddulphiophycidae;
  • Chaetocerotophycidae;
  • morphology;
  • rbcL;
  • sterols

The phylogenetic position of diatoms belonging to the genus Attheya is presently under debate. Species belonging to this genus have been placed in the subclasses Chaetocerotophycidae and Biddulphiophycidae, but published phylogenetic trees based on 18S rDNA, morphology, and sexual reproduction indicate that this group of diatoms may be a sister group of the pennates. To clarify the position of Attheya, we studied the morphology, 18S rDNA, 16S rDNA of the chloroplasts, the rbcL large subunit (LSU) sequences of the chloroplasts, and the sterol composition of three different strains of Attheya septentrionalis (Østrup) R. M. Crawford and one strain of Attheya longicornis R. M. Crawford et C. Gardner. These data were compared with data from more than 100 other diatom species, covering the whole phylogenetic tree, with special emphasis on species belonging to the genera that have been suggested to be related to the genus Attheya. All data suggest that the investigated Attheya species form a separate group of diatoms, and there is no indication that they belong to either the Chaetocerotophycidae or the Biddulphiophycidae. Despite applying these various approaches, we were unable to determine the exact phylogenetic position of the investigated Attheya species within the diatoms.