In order to reconstruct the evolution of euglenid flagellates, euglenozoan SSU rDNA data have been used to investigate phylogenetic relationships with a focus on osmotrophic taxa and especially on the Rhabdomonadales. The dataset consisting of the SSU rDNAs of osmotrophic, phagotrophic and phototrophic taxa was used in parsimony, maximum-likelihood and distance analyses. Five genera make up the Rhabdomonadales, all of them osmotrophic: Gyropaigne, Menoidium, Parmidium, Rhabdomonas and Rhabdospira. According to our analyses they form a strongly supported monophyletic assemblage which is characterized by a low sequence divergence compared to the euglenids in general. Closest relatives are the members of the osmotrophic genus Distigma. All primary osmotrophic species constitute a larger monophyletic group with the phototrophic euglenids and the phagotroph Peranema trichophorum. The combination of three rhabdomonadalian species Rhabdomonas gibba, Rhabdomonas spiralis and Rhabdospira spiralis with nearly identical SSU rDNA sequences is strongly recommended. The phagotroph Petalomonas cantuscygni branches at the bottom of the euglenid subtree with significantly weaker support. The inter-relationship of the three distinct euglenozoan taxa (euglenids, kinetoplastids and diplonemids) could not be convincingly resolved by this study.


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