Widespread Occurrence of Two Planktonic Ciliate Species (Urotricha, Prostomatida) Originating from High Mountain Lakes

Bettina Sonntag, Daniela Frantal, Barbara Kammerlander, Tatyana Darienko, Sabine Filker, Thorsten Stoeck, Michael Gruber, Thomas Pröschold
2022 Diversity  
Ciliates of the genus Urotricha are widely distributed and occur in almost any freshwater body. Thus far, almost all species have been described from morphology only. Here, we applied an integrative approach on the morphology, molecular phylogeny and biogeography of two species isolated from high mountain lakes in the Central Alps, Austria. As these remote lakes are known to have water temperatures <15 °C, our hypothesis was that these urotrichs might prefer 'cold' environments. We studied the
more » ... orphological details from living and silver-stained individuals, and their molecular sequences (ribosomal operon, ITS), and screened available datasets for their biogeography. The two Urotricha species resembled morphological features of several congeners. An accurate species assignment was difficult due to several overlapping characteristics. However, we tentatively attributed the investigated species to Urotricha nais and Urotricha globosa. The biogeographic analyses revealed their occurrence in Europe, Africa and Asia, and no correlations to (cold) temperatures were found. Our findings suggest that these two urotrichs, originating from two cold and remote habitats, are probably cryptic species well adapted to their harsh environment.
doi:10.3390/d14050362 fatcat:n534kjke4jgjph5vbqu7qf7vd4