Scuticociliate endosymbionts of echinoids (phylum Echinodermata) : phylogenetic relationships among species in the genera Entodiscus, Plagiopyliella, Thyrophylax, and Entorhipidium (phylum Ciliophora)

Lynn, D.H.; Strüder-Kypke, M.

Journal of Parasitology 91(5): 1190-1199


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-3395
PMID: 16419766
DOI: 10.1645/ge-445r.1
Accession: 023565568

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Morphological research on over 50 species of ciliates recorded as endosymbionts of echinoids suggests that invasion of the echinoid microhabitat occurred on at least 4 occasions. Gene sequence data confirm the phylogenetic distinctness of spirotrichean, armophorean, plagiopylean, and oligohymenophorean endosymbionts. It is also likely that oligohymenophoreans have repeatedly invaded the gut habitat. To test this hypothesis, we sequenced small subunit rRNA (SSrRNA) genes of 6 species representing the larger scuticociliate species found in the intestine of Strongylocentrotus pallidus from the northeast Pacific Ocean: Entodiscus borealis (Entodiscidae); Plagiopyliella pacifica and Thyrophylax vorax (Thyrophylacidae); and Entorhipidium pilatum, Entorhipidium tenue, and Entorhipidium sp. (Entorhipidiidae). SsrRNA genes were amplified by PCR, and sequences obtained in both directions. In all phylogenetic analyses, the scuticociliates are well supported as a clade. Entodiscus is distinct from these other echinoid taxa and is the sister taxon to the facultatively parasitic Uronema marinum. The other 5 echinoid species always form a clade whose basal species is the free-living Parauronema longum. The greatest genetic distance among these latter 5 species is less than 1.5%. This probably explains why the Thyrophylacidae and Entorhipidiidae are paraphyletic based on the SSrRNA gene sequences.