The phylogenetic position of the trichomonad, Histomonas meleagridis was determined by analysis of small subunit rRNAs. Molecular trees including all identified parabasalid sequences available in data bases were inferred by distance, parsimony, and likelihood methods. All reveal a close relationship between H. meleagridis, and Dientamoeba fragilis. Moreover, small subunit rRNAs of both amoeboid species have a reduced G C content and increased chain length relative to other parabasalids. Finally, the rRNA genes from H. meleagridis and D. fragilis share a recent common ancestor with Tritrichomonas foetus, which exhibits a more developed cytoskeleton. This indicates that Histomonas and Dientamoeba secondarily lost most of the typical trichomonad cytoskeletal structures and hence, do not represent primitive morphologies. A global phylogeny of parabasalids revealed significant discrepancies with morphology-based classifications, such as the polyphyly of most of the parabasalid families and classes included in our study.
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Vol. 48 • No. 4