The symbiotic intestinal ciliates and the evolution of their hosts
until further notice
SourceEuropean Journal of Protistology, 50, 2, (2014), pp. 166-73
Article / Letter to editor
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European Journal of Protistology
SubjectRadboudumc 6: Metabolic Disorders RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
The evolution of sophisticated differentiations of the gastro-intestinal tract enabled herbivorous mammals to digest dietary cellulose and hemicellulose with the aid of a complex anaerobic microbiota. Distinctive symbiotic ciliates, which are unique to this habitat, are the largest representatives of this microbial community. Analyses of a total of 484 different 18S rRNA genes show that extremely complex, but related ciliate communities can occur in the rumen of cattle, sheep, goats and red deer (301 sequences). The communities in the hindgut of equids (Equus caballus, Equus quagga), and elephants (Elephas maximus, Loxodonta africanus; 162 sequences), which are clearly distinct from the ruminant ciliate biota, exhibit a much higher diversity than anticipated on the basis of their morphology. All these ciliates from the gastro-intestinal tract constitute a monophyletic group, which consists of two major taxa, i.e. Vestibuliferida and Entodiniomorphida. The ciliates from the evolutionarily older hindgut fermenters exhibit a clustering that is specific for higher taxa of their hosts, as extant species of horse and zebra on the one hand, and Africa and Indian elephant on the other hand, share related ciliates. The evolutionary younger ruminants altogether share the various entodiniomorphs and the vestibuliferids from ruminants.
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