The excavate protozoan phyla Metamonada Grassé emend. (Anaeromonadea, Parabasalia, Carpediemonas, Eopharyngia) and Loukozoa emend. (Jakobea, Malawimonas): their evolutionary affinities and new higher taxa

Int J Syst Evol Microbiol. 2003 Nov;53(Pt 6):1741-58. doi: 10.1099/ijs.0.02548-0.


It is argued here that the anaerobic protozoan zooflagellate Parabasalia, Carpediemonas and Eopharyngia (diplomonads, enteromonads, retortamonads) constitute a holophyletic group, for which the existing name Trichozoa is adopted as a new subphylum. Ancestrally, Trichozoa probably had hydrogenosomes, stacked Golgi dictyosomes, three anterior centrioles and one posterior centriole: the typical tetrakont pattern. It is also argued that the closest relatives of Trichozoa are Anaeromonada (Trimastix, oxymonads), and the two groups are classified as subphyla of a revised phylum Metamonada. Returning Parabasalia and Anaeromonadea to Metamonada, as in Grassé's original classification, simplifies classification of the kingdom Protozoa by reducing the number of phyla within infrakingdom Excavata from five to four. Percolozoa (Heterolobosea plus Percolatea classis nov.) and Metamonada are probably both ancestrally quadriciliate with a kinetid of four centrioles attached to the nucleus; the few biciliates among them are probably secondarily derived. Metamonada ancestrally probably had two divergent centriole pairs, whereas, in Percolozoa, all four centrioles are parallel. It is suggested that Discicristata (Percolozoa, Euglenozoa) are holophyletic, ancestrally with two parallel centrioles. In the phylum Loukozoa, Malawimonadea classis nov. is established for Malawimonas (with a new family and order also) and Diphyllatea classis nov., for Diphylleida (Diphylleia, Collodictyon), is transferred back to Apusozoa. A new class, order and family are established for the anaerobic, biciliate, tricentriolar Carpediemonas, transferring it from Loukozoa to Trichozoa because of its triply flanged cilia; like Retortamonas, it may be secondarily biciliate--its unique combination of putative hydrogenosomes and flanged cilia agree with molecular evidence that Carpediemonas is sister to Eopharyngia, diverging before their ancestor lost hydrogenosomes and acquired a cytopharynx. Removal of anaeromonads and Carpediemonas makes Loukozoa more homogeneous, being basically biciliate, aerobic and free-living, in contrast to Metamonada. A new taxon-rich rRNA tree supports holophyly of Discicristata and Trichozoa strongly, holophyly of Metamonada and Excavata and paraphyly of Loukozoa weakly. Mitochondria were probably transformed into hydrogenosomes independently in the ancestors of lyromonad Percolozoa and Metamonada and further reduced in the ancestral eopharyngian. Evidence is briefly discussed that Metamonada and all other excavates share a photosynthetic ancestry with Euglenozoa and are secondarily non-photosynthetic, as predicted by the cabozoan hypothesis for a single secondary symbiogenetic acquisition of green algal plastids by the last common ancestor of Euglenozoa and Cercozoa. Excavata plus core Rhizaria (Cercozoa, Retaria) probably form an ancestrally photophagotrophic clade. The origin from a benthic loukozoan ancestor of the characteristic cellular features of Percolozoa and Euglenozoa through divergent adaptations for feeding on or close to surfaces is also discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Eukaryota / classification*
  • Eukaryota / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Paleontology
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Terminology as Topic


  • RNA, Ribosomal

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF053089
  • GENBANK/AF411288