Morphology, Morphometrics, and Molecular Characterization of Bryophrya gemmea n. sp. (Ciliophora, Colpodea): Implications for the Phylogeny and Evolutionary Scenario for the Formation of Oral Ciliature in the Order Colpodida

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We studied the morphology, morphometry, resting, and reproductive cysts, as well as the molecular phylogeny of Bryophrya gemmea n. sp., a colpodid ciliate that was discovered in ephemeral puddles in Idaho, northwest United States. This new species is distinguished from congeners by the irregularly pentagonal adoral organelles, four to five vestibular kineties, the single micronucleus, and one to three rows of brightly refractive protuberant interkinetal cortical granules to the right of the preoral suture. Resting cysts have two distinct membranes and an outer mucous coat. As typical for most colpodids, reproduction occurs in division cysts but details of ontogenesis are unknown. The 18S rRNA gene sequence shows only weak support for the phylogenetic relationship between Bryophrya and the bryophryid genus Notoxoma previously inferred from morphologic characters. Further, our molecular phylogenies classify bryophryids rather basal within the order Colpodida, not supporting ordinal status suggested by morphologists. Based on molecular data and morphologic characters, the colpodid genus Ilsiella is removed from the family Marynidae and placed in a new family, Ilsiellidae. Considering the molecular data, an evolutionary scenario for the formation of colpodid oral structures from a cyrtolophosidid ancestor through a bryophryid intermediate is proposed.