Expanding the molecular and morphological diversity of Apusomonadida, a deep-branching group of gliding bacterivorous protists

Guifré Torruella, Luis Javier Galindo, David Moreira, Maria Ciobanu, Aaron A. Heiss, Naoji Yubuki, Eunsoo Kim, Purificación López-García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Apusomonads are cosmopolitan bacterivorous biflagellate protists usually gliding on freshwater and marine sediment or wet soils. These nanoflagellates form a sister lineage to opisthokonts and may have retained ancestral features helpful to understanding the early evolution of this large supergroup. Although molecular environmental analyses indicate that apusomonads are genetically diverse, few species have been described. Here, we morphologically characterize 11 new apusomonad strains. Based on molecular phylogenetic analyses of the rRNA gene operon, we describe four new strains of the known species Multimonas media, Podomonas capensis, Apusomonas proboscidea, and Apusomonas australiensis, and rename Thecamonas oxoniensis as Mylnikovia oxoniensis n. gen., n. comb. Additionally, we describe four new genera and six new species: Catacumbia lutetiensis n. gen. n. sp., Cavaliersmithia chaoae n. gen. n. sp., Singekia montserratensis n. gen. n. sp., Singekia franciliensis n. gen. n. sp., Karpovia croatica n. gen. n. sp., and Chelonemonas dolani n. sp. Our comparative analysis suggests that apusomonad ancestor was a fusiform biflagellate with a dorsal pellicle, a plastic ventral surface, and a sleeve covering the anterior flagellum, that thrived in marine, possibly oxygen-poor, environments. It likely had a complex cell cycle with dormant and multiple fission stages, and sex. Our results extend known apusomonad diversity, allow updating their taxonomy, and provide elements to understand early eukaryotic evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12956
JournalJournal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Amastigomonas
  • Apusomonas
  • Apusozoa
  • Thecamonas
  • diversity
  • evolution
  • flagellate
  • phylogeny
  • taxonomy


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