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Cryptic Speciation in the Genus Cryptoglena (Euglenaceae) Revealed by Nuclear and Plastid SSU and LSU rRNA Gene


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The photosynthetic euglenoid genus Cryptoglena is differentiated from other euglenoid genera by having a longitudinal sulcus, one chloroplast, two large trough-shaped paramylon plates positioned between the chloroplast and pellicle, and lack of metaboly. The genus contains only two species. To understand genetic diversity and taxonomy of Cryptoglena species, we analyzed molecular and morphological data from 25 strains. A combined data set of nuclear SSU and LSU and plastid SSU and LSU rRNA genes was analyzed using Bayesian, maximum likelihood, maximum parsimony, and distance (neighbor joining) methods. Although morphological data of all strains showed no significant species-specific pattern, molecular data segregated the taxa into five clades, two of which represented previously known species: C. skujae and C. pigra, and three of which were designated as the new species, C. soropigra, C. similis, and C. longisulca. Each species had unique molecular signatures that could be found in the plastid SSU rRNA Helix P23_1 and LSU rRNA H2 domain. The genetic similarity of intraspecies based on nr SSU rDNA ranged from 97.8% to 100% and interspecies ranged from 95.3% to 98.9%. Therefore, we propose three new species based on specific molecular signatures and gene divergence of the nr SSU rDNA sequences.