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Abstract

The mitochondrial cytochrome- oxidase subunit 1 () gene has been proposed as a DNA barcode to identify animal species. To test the applicability of the gene in identifying ciliates, 75 isolates of the genus and three non- ciliates that are close relatives of , , and , were selected. All tetrahymenines of unproblematic species could be identified to the species level using 689 bp of the sequence, with about 11 % interspecific sequence divergence. Intraspecific isolates of , , and could be identified by their sequences, showing <0.65 % intraspecific sequence divergence. In addition, isolates of these species were clustered together on a neighbour-joining (NJ) tree. However, strains identified as and showed high intraspecific sequence divergence values of 5.01 and 9.07 %, respectively, and did not cluster together on a NJ tree. This may indicate the presence of cryptic species. The mean interspecific sequence divergence of was about 11 times greater than the mean intraspecific sequence divergence, and this increased to 58 times when all isolates of species with high intraspecific sequence divergence were excluded. This result is similar to DNA barcoding studies on animals, indicating that congeneric sequence divergences are an order of magnitude greater than conspecific sequence divergences. Our analysis also demonstrated low sequence divergences of <1.0 % between some isolates of and on the one hand and some isolates of and on the other, suggesting that the latter species in each pair is a junior synonym of the former. Overall, our study demonstrates the feasibility of using the mitochondrial gene as a taxonomic marker for ‘barcoding’ and identifying species and some other ciliated protists.

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2007-10-01
2019-12-11
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[PDF file of Supplementary Tables S1-S3](90 KB)

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Nucleotide alignment of cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 ( ) gene of 78 tetrahymenine ciliates. [Alignment text file] (110 KB)

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Nucleotide alignment of small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU rDNA) of 49 tetrahymenine ciliates. [Alignment text file] (80 KB)

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