1887

Abstract

Ciliates are highly divergent unicellular eukaryotic organisms with nuclear dualism and a highly specialized ciliary pattern. They inhabit all biotopes and play crucial roles in regulating microbial food webs as they prey on bacteria, protists and even on microscopic animals. Nevertheless, subtle morphological differences and tiny sizes hinder proper species identification for many ciliates. In the present review, an attempt has been made to elaborate the various approaches used by modern day ciliate taxonomists for species identification. The different approaches involved in taxonomic characterization of ciliates such as classical (using live-cell observations, staining techniques, etc.), molecular (involving various marker genes) and statistical (delimitation of cryptic species) methods have been reviewed. Ecological and behavioural aspects in species identification have also been discussed. In present-day taxonomy, it is important to use a ‘total evidence’ approach in identifying ciliates, relying on both classical and molecular information whenever possible. This integrative approach will help in the mergence of classical methods with modern-day tools for comprehensive species description in future.

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2019-01-16
2019-10-15
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