Phylogeny and classification of phylum Cercozoa (Protozoa)

Protist. 2003 Oct;154(3-4):341-58. doi: 10.1078/143446103322454112.


The protozoan phylum Cercozoa embraces numerous ancestrally biciliate zooflagellates, euglyphid and other filose testate amoebae, chlorarachnean algae, phytomyxean plant parasites (e.g. Plasmodiophora, Phagomyxa), the animal-parasitic Ascetosporea, and Gromia. We report 18S rRNA sequences of 27 culturable zooflagellates, many previously of unknown taxonomic position. Phylogenetic analysis shows that all belong to Cercozoa. We revise cercozoan classification in the light of our analysis and ultrastructure, adopting two subphyla: Filosa subphyl. nov. a clade comprising Monadofilosa and Reticulofilosa, ranked as superclasses, ancestrally having the same very rare base-pair substitution as all opisthokonts; and subphylum Endomyxa emend. comprising classes Phytomyxea (Plasmodiophorida, Phagomyxida), Ascetosporea (Haplosporidia, Paramyxida, Claustrosporida ord. nov.) and Gromiidea cl. nov., which did not. Monadofilosa comprise Sarcomonadea, zooflagellates with a propensity to glide on their posterior cilium and/or generate filopodia (e.g. Metopion; Cercomonas; Heteromitidae - Heteromita, Bodomorpha, Proleptomonas and Allantion) and two new classes: Imbricatea (with silica scales: Euglyphida; Thaumatomonadida, including Alias, Thaumatomastix) and Thecofilosea (Cryomonadida; Tectofilosida ord. nov. - non-scaly filose amoebae, e.g. Pseudodifflugia). Reticulofilosa comprise classes Chlorarachnea, Spongomonadea and Proteomyxidea (e.g. Massisteria, Gymnophrys, a Dimorpha-like protozoan). Cercozoa, now with nine classes and 17 orders (four new), will probably include many, possibly most, other filose and reticulose amoebae and zooflagellates not yet assigned to phyla.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Protozoan / analysis
  • DNA, Ribosomal / analysis
  • Eukaryota / classification*
  • Eukaryota / genetics
  • Eukaryota / growth & development
  • Eukaryota / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S