Gromia oviformis Dujardin is a common marine protist characterised by a large, globular test and filose pseudopodia. First considered a foraminifer, Gromia was later placed within the Filosea and recently included among amoebae of uncertain affinities. In order to clarify the phylogenetic position of this genus, we sequenced the complete small-subunit ribosomal DNA gene of G. oviformis collected at five different geographic localities. The high divergence of obtained sequences suggests that G. oviformis is a species complex composed of several genetically distinct sibling species. Sequence analyses show Gromia to be a member of the Cercozoa, a heterogeneous assemblage which includes filose amoebae, the amoeboflagellate cercomonads, the chlorarachniophytes and the plasmodiophorid plant pathogens. Contrary to traditional classification, Gromia is not closely related to other testate filose amoebae (the Euglyphida), but seems to branch early among the Cercozoa. Our analyses also show a close relationship between the Cercozoa and the Acantharea. Because the Cercozoa are related to the Foraminifera based on other molecular data, we propose that most protists possessing filopodia, reticulopodia and axopodia have a common origin.
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