New Species of Spirotrichonympha from Reticulitermes and the Relationships Among Genera in Spirotrichonymphea (Parabasalia)

Gillian Gile, Erick R. James, Vera Tai, James T. Harper, Trevor L. Merrell, Vittorio Boscaro, Filip Husník, Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, Patrick J. Keeling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Spirotrichonymphea is a class of hypermastigote parabasalids defined by their spiral rows of many flagella. They are obligate hindgut symbionts of lower termites. Despite more than 100 yr of morphological and ultrastructural study, the group remains poorly characterised by molecular data and the phylogenetic positions and taxonomic validity of most genera remain in question. The genus Spirotrichonympha has been reported to inhabit several termite genera, including Reticulitermes, Coptotermes, and Hodotermopsis. The type species for this genus, Spirotrichonympha flagellata, was described from Reticulitermes lucifugus but no molecular data are yet available for this species. In this study, three new Spirotrichonympha species are described from three species of Reticulitermes. Their molecular phylogenetic position indicates that the genus is not monophyletic, as Spirotrichonympha species from Coptotermes, Paraneotermes, and Hodotermopsis branch separately. In contrast, the genus Holomastigotoides is monophyletic, as demonstrated using new sequences from Holomastigotoides species. The presence of Holomastigotoides in Prorhinotermes and the distinct phylogenetic positions of Spirotrichonympha from Reticulitermes and Coptotermes are consistent with a previously proposed symbiont fauna replacement in the ancestor of Reticulitermes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-169
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Coptotermes
  • Heterotermes
  • Paraneotermes
  • Prorhinotermes
  • Rhinotermitidae
  • gut symbiont
  • lower termite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology


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