New Contribution to the Species-Rich Genus Euplotes: Morphology, Ontogeny and Systematic Position of Two Species (Ciliophora; Euplotia)

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The morphology, ontogeny and phylogeny of two Euplotes species, E. estuarinus sp. nov. and a population of E. platystoma Dragesco and Dragesco-Kernéis, 1986, both collected from tropical brackish waters in south China, were investigated based on living morphology, ciliary pattern and molecular data. Euplotes estuarinus sp. nov. is small (about 60 × 40 μm in vivo), has a dargyrome of the double-eurystomus type, and the transverse cirri are arranged in two groups, with two left and three right ones. The original description of the poorly known species, E. platystoma, is brief, and the species was never investigated using live observation and molecular methods Hence, we provided a detailed redescription. Some stages of their morphogenesis were observed which proceed in the same pattern as in their congeners. The new species E. estuarinus sp. nov. clusters with E. curdsi, differing only by 1 bp in their SSU rRNA gene sequences, which is likely due to the recent speciation event and the limited resolution of the SSU rRNA gene at species level in this group as the two species are clearly morphologically distinct.