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Image of the Day: Single-Cell Surprises
Image of the Day: Single-Cell Surprises

Image of the Day: Single-Cell Surprises

Researchers identify a new species of Hemimastigophora protist, and suggest the group should be promoted from a phylum to a supra-kingdom.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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ABOVE: Hemimastix kukwesjijk, a newly described species
YANA EGLIT, DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY; SPECIAL THANKS TO PATRICIA SCALLION, ELECTRON MICROSCOPY CORE FACILITY MANAGER

Single-cell eukaryotes currently grouped into the phylum Hemimastigophora deserve to be their own supra-kingdom, representing one of only 10 or fewer of the “most distinct branches of the eukaryote tree of life,” explains Yana Eglit, a graduate student in Alastair Simpson’s lab at the University of Dalhousie who coauthored a study on the organisms published yesterday (November 14) in Nature

In addition to unearthing a new Hemimastigophora species, which the team dubbed Hemimastix kukwesjijk, the researchers’ analyses of the transcriptomes of hemimastigotes found along the Bluff Wilderness Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada, should establish these protists as a sister clade to Diaphoretickes—an informal supergroup that comprises up to one-half of eukaryote diversity.

“The previous ranking of Hemimastigophora as a phylum understates the evolutionary...

A close up of Hemimastix kukwesjijk’s capitulum, which helps the protist ingest its prey
YANA EGLIT, DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY; SPECIAL THANKS TO PATRICIA SCALLION, ELECTRON MICROSCOPY CORE FACILITY MANAGER

G. Lax et al., “Hemimastigophora is a novel supra-kingdom-level lineage of eukaryotes,” Nature, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0708-8, 2018.

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