Heterotrichous ciliates are common members of microeukaryote communities which play important roles in the transfer of material and energy flow in aquatic food webs. This group has been known over two centuries due to their large body size and cosmopolitan distribution. Nevertheless, species identification and phylogenetic relationships of heterotrichs remain challenging due to the lack of accurate morphological information and insufficient molecular data.
The morphology and phylogeny of two poorly known heterotrichous ciliates, Gruberia uninucleata Kahl, 1932 and Linostomella vorticella (Ehrenberg, 1833) Aescht in Foissner et al. , 1999, were investigated based on their living morphology, infraciliature, and small subunit (SSU) rDNA sequence data. Based on a combination of previous and present studies, detailed morphometric data and the improved diagnoses of both species are supplied here. In addition, molecular data of the two species are reported for the first time. Phylogenetic analyses based on SSU rDNA sequence data support the generic assignment of these two species.
Two insufficiently studied species, G. uninucleata and L. vorticella , are redefined using state-of-the-art methods. Previous reports on these two species are re-evaluated in the light of present findings.