Description of Colponema vietnamica sp.n. and Acavomonas peruviana n. gen. n. sp., two new alveolate phyla (Colponemidia nom. nov. and Acavomonidia nom. nov.) and their contributions to reconstructing the ancestral state of alveolates and eukaryotes

PLoS One. 2014 Apr 16;9(4):e95467. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095467. eCollection 2014.


The evolutionary and ecological importance of predatory flagellates are too often overlooked. This is not only a gap in our understanding of microbial diversity, but also impacts how we interpret their better-studied relatives. A prime example of these problems is found in the alveolates. All well-studied species belong to three large clades (apicomplexans, dinoflagellates, and ciliates), but the predatory colponemid flagellates are also alveolates that are rare in nature and seldom cultured, but potentially important to our understanding of alveolate evolution. Recently we reported the first cultivation and molecular analysis of several colponemid-like organisms representing two novel clades in molecular trees. Here we provide ultrastructural analysis and formal species descriptions for both new species, Colponema vietnamica n. sp. and Acavomonas peruviana n. gen. n. sp. Morphological and feeding characteristics concur with molecular data that both species are distinct members of alveolates, with Acavomonas lacking the longitudinal phagocytotic groove, a defining feature of Colponema. Based on ultrastructure and molecular phylogenies, which both provide concrete rationale for a taxonomic reclassification of Alveolata, we establish the new phyla Colponemidia nom. nov. for the genus Colponema and its close relatives, and Acavomonidia nom. nov. for the genus Acavomonas and its close relatives. The morphological data presented here suggests that colponemids are central to our understanding of early alveolate evolution, and suggest they also retain features of the common ancestor of all eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alveolata / classification*
  • Alveolata / genetics*
  • Alveolata / isolation & purification
  • Alveolata / ultrastructure
  • Biological Evolution
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics*
  • Peru
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics*
  • Russia
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Soil / parasitology
  • Vietnam


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • Soil