Article

Evolution of distorted pellicle patterns in rigid photosynthetic euglenids (phacus dujardin).

Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z4.
Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology (Impact Factor: 2.16). 09/2009; 57(1):19-32. DOI: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.2009.00447.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Members of the euglenid genus Phacus are morphologically differentiated from other photosynthetic species by the presence of a rigid cytoskeleton (pellicle) and predominantly dorsoventrally flattened, leaf-shaped cells. In order to better understand the evolutionary history of this lineage, we used scanning electron microscopy to examine patterns of pellicle strips in Phacus acuminatus, Phacus longicauda var. tortus, Phacus triqueter, Phacus segretii, Phacus pleuronectes, Phacus similis, Phacus pusillus, Phacus orbicularis, Phacus warszewiczii, and Discoplastis spathirhyncha, a putative close relative of Phacus and Lepocinclis. Our observations showed that while the earliest diverging species in our analyses, namely P. warszewiczii, has three whorls of exponential reduction, most members of Phacus have clustered patterns of posterior strip reduction that are bilaterally symmetrical distortions of the radially symmetrical "whorled" patterns found in other photosynthetic euglenids. Comparative morphology, interpreted within the context of molecular phylogenetic analyses of combined nuclear small subunit rDNA and partial nuclear large subunit rDNA sequences, demonstrates that clustered patterns of posterior strip reduction arose after the divergence of Phacus from other photosynthetic euglenids and are the result of developmental processes that govern individual strip length. Clustered patterns of pellicle strips in Phacus do not appear to be adaptively significant themselves; they evolved in association with the origin of cell flattening and cell rigidity, which may be adaptations to a planktonic lifestyle.

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