Trends in the evolution of the euglenid pellicle were described using phylogenetic methods on 18S rDNA, morphological, and combined data from 25 mostly phototrophic taxa. The tree topology from a total-evidence analysis formed a template for a synthetic tree that took into account conflicting results derived from the partitioned datasets. Pellicle character states that can only be observed with the assistance of transmission and scanning electron microscopy were phylogenetically mapped onto the synthetic tree to test a set of previously established homology statements (inferences made independently from a cladogram). The results permitted us to more confidently infer the ancestral-derived polarities of character state transformations and provided a framework for understanding the key cytoskeletal innovations associated with the evolution of phototrophic euglenids. We specifically addressed the character evolution of (1) the maximum number of pellicle strips around the cell periphery; (2) the patterns of terminating strips near the cell posterior end; (3) the substructural morphology of pellicle strips; (4) the morphology of the cell posterior tip; and (5) patterns of pellicle pores on the cell surface.
Corresponding Editor: M. Riley