Bacterial symbiosis in ciliates (Alveolata, Ciliophora): Roads traveled and those still to be taken

J Eukaryot Microbiol. 2022 Sep;69(5):e12886. doi: 10.1111/jeu.12886. Epub 2022 Jan 26.


The diversity of prokaryotic symbionts in Ciliophora and other protists is fascinatingly rich; they may even include some potentially pathogenic bacteria. In this review, we summarize currently available data on biodiversity and some morphological and biological peculiarities of prokaryotic symbionts mainly within the genera Paramecium and Euplotes. Another direction of ciliate symbiology, neglected for a long time and now re-discovered, is the study of epibionts of ciliates. This promises a variety of interesting outcomes. Last, but not least, we stress the new technologies, such as next generation sequencing and the use of genomics data, which all can clarify many new aspects of relevance. For this reason, a brief overview of achievements in genomic studies on ciliate's symbionts is provided. Summing up the results of numerous scientific contributions, we systematically update current knowledge and outline the prospects as to how symbiology of Ciliophora may develop in the near future.

Keywords: Euplotes; Holospora; Paramecium; Ciliophora; Holospora-like bacteria; endosymbiosis; episymbiosis; morphology; phylogeny; symbionts.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alveolata*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Ciliophora* / genetics
  • Ciliophora* / microbiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Symbiosis