Lophomonas striata is a multiflagellate parabasalid commensal in the hindgut of the omnivorous cockroaches Blatta orientalis and Periplaneta americana. Its closest relatives were traditionally thought to include similar multiflagellate parabasalids with a single flagellar area that degenerates during mitosis, such as Joenia and Kofoidia. However, molecular phylogenetic analyses have shown that " lophomonads" are not monophyletic. We have determined the SSU rRNA sequence of L. striata and we find that it branches sister to the Trichonymphida with strong support. This is surprising because all other lophomonads sampled to date branch within the Cristamonadida, and the order Trichonymphida (e.g. Trichonympha, Pseudotrichonympha, and Hoplonympha) is both morphologically coherent and monophyletic in SSU rRNA phylogenies. Trichonymphida, unlike the lophomonads, share a bilateral symmetry, in which their multiple flagella occur in two (or sometimes four) regions, and instead of degenerating upon mitosis, half of the flagella are passed to each daughter cell. The single apical flagellar region characteristic of lophomonads is therefore either plesiomorphic or it has arisen multiple times in parabasalids; our phylogenetic analyses and available ultrastructural evidence suggest the latter. Our results also suggest that parabasalid gut symbionts may have been vertically transmitted in cockroaches before the common ancestor of Cryptocercus and termites.
- Gut symbiont
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