Phylogenetic identification of the symbiotic hypermastigote Trichonympha agilis in the hindgut of the termite Reticulitermes speratus based on small-subunit rRNA sequence

J Eukaryot Microbiol. 1998 Jul-Aug;45(4):439-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1998.tb05096.x.


The phylogeny of a symbiotic hypermastigote Trichonympha agilis (class Parabasalia; order Hypermastigida) in the hindgut of the lower termite Reticulitermes speratus was examined by a strategy that does not rely on cultivation. From mixed-population DNA obtained from the termite gut, small subunit (16S-like) ribosomal RNA sequences were directly amplified by the polymerase chain reaction method using primers specific for eukaryotes. Comparative sequence analysis of the clones revealed two kinds of sequences, one from the termite itself and the other from a symbiotic protist. A fluorescent-labeled oligonucleotide probe for the latter sequence was designed and used in whole-cell hybridization experiments to provide direct visual evidence that the sequence originated from a larger hypermastigote in the termite hindgut, Trichonympha agilis. According to the phylogenetic trees constructed, the hypermastigote represented one of the deepest branches of eukaryotes. The hypermastigote along with members of the order Trichomonadida formed a monophyletic lineage, indicating that this hypermastigote and trichomonads shared a recent common ancestry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Eukaryota / classification*
  • Eukaryota / genetics*
  • Insecta / parasitology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Protozoan*
  • RNA, Ribosomal*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Symbiosis


  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal