In this study, we investigated the morphology and molecular phylogeny of four marine or brackish spirotrichean ciliates found in China, namely: Caryotricha sinica sp. nov., Prodiscocephalus orientalis sp. nov., P. cf. borrori, and Certesia quadrinucleata. Caryotricha sinica is characterized by its small size, seven cirral rows extending posteriorly to about 65% of the cell length, and four transverse cirri. Prodiscocephalus orientalis differs from its congeners mainly by the number of cirri in the "head" region and on the ventral side. The SSU rDNA sequence of P. cf. borrori differs from that of other population of P. borrori by ca. 40 bp. Consequently, the nominal species P. borrori is considered to be a species-complex. New data are provided for Certesia quadrinucleata. The Chinese population of C. quadrinucleata, for example, has fewer left marginal cirri than the other populations for which such data are available. Phylogenetic analyses based on SSU rDNA sequence data show that the genus Caryotricha is monophyletic. All typical "discocephalids" with a discoid "head" form a strongly supported clade that is sister to the unstable uronychiids + pseudoamphisiellids clade within the Euplotia. The genus Certesia forms a sister group to the Euplotes clade, also within the Euplotia assemblage.
Keywords: Discocephalida; Euplotia; Hypotrichia; Phylogeny; Taxonomy.
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