A Novel Colonial Ciliate Zoothamnium ignavum sp. nov. (Ciliophora, Oligohymenophorea) and Its Ectosymbiont Candidatus Navis piranensis gen. nov., sp. nov. from Shallow-Water Wood Falls

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 28;11(9):e0162834. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162834. eCollection 2016.


Symbioses between ciliate hosts and prokaryote or unicellular eukaryote symbionts are widespread. Here, we report on a novel ciliate species within the genus Zoothamnium Bory de St. Vincent, 1824, isolated from shallow-water sunken wood in the North Adriatic Sea (Mediterranean Sea), proposed as Zoothamnium ignavum sp. nov. We found this ciliate species to be associated with a novel genus of bacteria, here proposed as "Candidatus Navis piranensis" gen. nov., sp. nov. The descriptions of host and symbiont species are based on morphological and ultrastructural studies, the SSU rRNA sequences, and in situ hybridization with symbiont-specific probes. The host is characterized by alternate microzooids on alternate branches arising from a long, common stalk with an adhesive disc. Three different types of zooids are present: microzooids with a bulgy oral side, roundish to ellipsoid macrozooids, and terminal zooids ellipsoid when dividing or bulgy when undividing. The oral ciliature of the microzooids runs 1¼ turns in a clockwise direction around the peristomial disc when viewed from inside the cell and runs into the infundibulum, where it makes another ¾ turn. The ciliature consists of a paroral membrane (haplokinety), three adoral membranelles (polykineties), and one stomatogenic kinety (germinal kinety). One circular row of barren kinetosomes is present aborally (trochal band). Phylogenetic analyses placed Z. ignavum sp. nov. within the clade II of the polyphyletic family Zoothamniidae (Oligohymenophorea). The ectosymbiont was found to occur in two different morphotypes, as rods with pointed ends and coccoid rods. It forms a monophyletic group with two uncultured Gammaproteobacteria within an unclassified group of Gammaproteobacteria, and is only distantly related to the ectosymbiont of the closely related peritrich Z. niveum (Hemprich and Ehrenberg, 1831) Ehrenberg, 1838.