Xenophyophorea are giant deep-sea rhizopodial protists of enigmatic origins. Although species were described as Foraminifera or sponges in the early literature, the xenophyophoreans are currently classified either as a class of Rhizopoda or an independent phylum. To establish the phylogenetic position of Xenophyophorea, we analysed the small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene sequence of Syringammina corbicula Richardson, a newly described xenophyophorean species from the Cape Verde Plateau. The SSUrDNA analyses showed that S. corbicula is closely related to Rhizammina algaeformis, a tubular deep-sea foraminiferan. Both species branch within a group of monothalamous (single-chambered) Foraminifera, which include also such agglutinated genera as Toxisarcon, Rhabdammina, and Saccammina, and the organic-walled genera Gloiogullmia and Cylindrogullmia. Our results are congruent with observations of similar cytoplasmic organisation in Rhizammina and Syringammina. Thus, the Xenophyophorea appear to be a highly specialised group of deep-sea Foraminifera.
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Vol. 50 • No. 6