Higher Level Taxonomy and Molecular Phylogenetics of the Choanoflagellatea

Frank Nitsche, Martin Carr, Hartmut Arndt, Barry S.C. Leadbeater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


The choanoflagellates (Choanoflagellatea) comprise a major group of nanoflagellates, which are ubiquitous in the aquatic environment. Recent molecular phylogenies have shown them to be the sister group to the Metazoa. However, the phylogeny of the choanoflagellates is still far from understood. We present here a 29 taxon, multigene phylogeny that robustly places the root of the choanoflagellates. One of the original nonloricate families, Codonosigidae is shown to be a polyphyletic assemblage nested within the Salpingoecidae. We elaborate on a revised taxonomy that divides Choanoflagellatea into two orders: Craspedida and Acanthoecida. Craspedida is composed of species that possess an organic cell coating and contains the single family Salpingoecidae. Members of the predominantly marine Acanthoecida produce a siliceous lorica in addition to an organic coat and are contained in two families-the Acanthoecidae and Stephanoecidae fam. n. Previous studies of choanoflagellates have been hindered by cases of taxon misidentification as well as the limited resolution of 18S small subunit (SSU) rDNA phylogenies. Unfortunately, cases of misidentification have been heavily repeated in the literature. In an attempt to avoid further confusion, we highlight known instances of misnamed taxa. We also examine the suitability of SSU rDNA sequences alone for choanoflagellate phylogenetics and recommend the use of protein-coding genes, such as hsp90 and tubA, whenever possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-462
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Issue number5
Early online date2 Sep 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


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