A phylogenetic reconsideration of suctorian ciliates (Protista, Ciliophora, Phyllopharyngea) based on small subunit rRNA gene sequences



Compared with other ciliated protozoa, molecular studies of phylogenetic relationships within the subclass Suctoria are rare. In this work, phylogenetic analyses focusing on this group were performed based on all data available. In addition, the small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) genes of three suctorian ciliates (Acineta compressa, Acineta tuberosa and Paracineta limbata) were newly sequenced. Furthermore, the putative secondary structures of the variable region 2 of the SSU rRNA gene were predicted and compared within the Suctoria. Our results show that (i) there is support for the monophyly of the subclass Suctoria, which is a sister clade to the cyrtophorids; (ii) based on combined morphologic and molecular features, we propose the following evolutionary routine within the Suctoria: Exogenina – Evaginogenina – Endogenina; (iii) the similarities of the secondary structures of the V2 region and the SSU rRNA gene sequences within the subclass Suctoria are consistent with the branching of the phylogenetic lineages.