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Keywords:

  • Aconchulinia;
  • Cristidiscoidida;
  • filopodia;
  • Filosea;
  • mitochondrial cristae;
  • Nuclearia;
  • Nucleariidae;
  • phylogeny;
  • SSU rRNA;
  • Vampyrellidium

ABSTRACT. Nucleariid amoebae are naked amoebae, generally characterized by a spherical or sometimes flattened body with radiating filopodia. Most species preferentially consume algal prey or cyanobacteria. Phylogenetic analyses of the small-subunit rRNA coding regions from four nucleariid amoebae place these species near the origin of the animal-fungal divergence, together with the choanofiagellate-Corallochytrium and the ichthyosporean clades. The species Nuclearia delicatula, N. moebiusi, and N. simplex form a monophyletic group, while ATCC 30864, tentatively but possibly incorrectly assigned to Nuclearia sp., represents a separate line of descent. These nucleariids are unrelated to the lineage containing the testate filose amoebae (Testaceafilosia). Our findings expand the morphological and phylogenetic diversity of protists at the animal-fungal divergence.