A New Branch of Life?

Researchers investigate a microorganism that may warrant a new eukaryotic kingdom in the classification of life.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef (an unusual nickname for Jennifer) got her master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses. After four years of diving off the Gulf...

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May 1, 2012

FLICKR, CASEY FLESER

It’s not a plant. It’s not an animal or fungus. Collodictyon is an algae-eating protozoan found in the sludge of a Norwegian lake. And, sequencing bits of its genome, including its ribosomal DNA, Kamran Shalchian-Tabrizi of the Microbial Evolution Research Group (MERG) at the University of Oslo and colleagues discovered that it’s not like anything else on earth, falling on the tree of life somewhere between single-celled parasites called excavates and amoebas. The organism could thus represent a new kingdom of life, the authors suggested.

“The early and distinct origin of Collodictyon suggests that it constitutes a new lineage in the global eukaryote phylogeny,” the authors wrote in in the journal Molecular Biology Evolution.

Among its obscurities, Collodictyon has four flagella, as opposed to the one of mammals, fungi and amoebae, and the two of algae, plants, and excavates. Furthermore, it has the internal structure of...

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb.)

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