Phylogeny of Physarida (Amoebozoa, Myxogastria) Based on the Small-Subunit Ribosomal RNA Gene, Redefinition of Physarum pusillum s. str. and Reinstatement of P. gravidum Morgan

J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2020 May;67(3):327-336. doi: 10.1111/jeu.12783. Epub 2020 Jan 21.


Myxomycetes (also called Myxogastria or colloquially, slime molds) are worldwide occurring soil amoeboflagellates. Among Amoebozoa, they have the notable characteristic to form, during their life cycle, macroscopic fruiting bodies, that will ultimately release spores. Some 1,000 species have been described, based on the macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of their fruiting bodies. We were interested in Physarum pusillum (Berk. & M.A. Curtis) G. Lister, a very common species described with two variants, each bearing such morphological differences that they could represent two distinct species. In order to test this, we observed key characters in a large selection of specimens attributed to P. pusillum, to its synonyms (in particular Physarum gravidum), and to related species. In addition, the small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene was obtained from seven of these specimens. Based on these data, we provide a comprehensive phylogeny of the order Physarida (Eukaryota: Amoebozoa: Conosa: Macromycetozoa: Fuscisporidia). Morphology and phylogeny together support the reinstatement of P. gravidum Morgan 1896 with a neotype here designated, distinct from P. pusillum, here redefined.

Keywords: Conosa; Fuscisporidia; Macromycetozoa; Myxomycetes; image stacking; slime molds.

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Phylogeny
  • Physarum / classification*
  • Physarum / physiology*
  • Physarum / ultrastructure
  • Ribosome Subunits, Small, Eukaryotic / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods*
  • Spores, Protozoan / ultrastructure


  • DNA, Protozoan

Associated data

  • GENBANK/MK336177
  • GENBANK/MK336180
  • GENBANK/MK336179
  • GENBANK/MK336178
  • GENBANK/MK336175
  • GENBANK/MK336174
  • GENBANK/MK336176
  • GENBANK/JQ277930
  • GENBANK/AY321113
  • GENBANK/HE614605
  • GENBANK/HE614603
  • GENBANK/JX035983
  • GENBANK/JX035984
  • GENBANK/HE614610
  • GENBANK/HE614596
  • GENBANK/HE614608
  • GENBANK/AB259537