Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 45–55 | Cite as

Molecular analyses reveal high levels of eukaryotic richness associated with enigmatic deep-sea protists (Komokiacea)

  • B. Lecroq
  • A. J. Gooday
  • T. Cedhagen
  • A. Sabbatini
  • J. Pawlowski
Original Paper


Komokiaceans are testate agglutinated protists, extremely diverse and abundant in the deep sea. About 40 species are described and share the same main morphological feature: a test consisting of narrow branching tubules forming a complex system. In some species, the interstices between the tubules are filled by sediment, creating a mudball structure. Because of their unusual and sometimes featureless appearance, komokiaceans were frequently ignored or overlooked until they formal description in 1977. The most recent taxonomy places the Komokiacea within the Foraminifera based on general morphological features. To examine their taxonomic position at the molecular level, we analysed the SSU rDNA sequences of two species, Normanina conferta and Septuma ocotillo, obtained either with specific foraminiferal or universal eukaryotic primers. Many different sequences resulted from this investigation but none of them could clearly be attributed to komokiaceans. Although our study failed to confirm univocally that Komokiacea are foraminiferans, it revealed a huge eukaryotic richness associated with these organisms, comparable with the richness in the overall surrounding sediment. These observations suggest strongly that komokiaceans, and probably many other large testate protists, provide a habitat structure for a large spectrum of eukaryotes, significantly contributing to maintaining the biodiversity of micro- and meiofaunal communities in the deep sea.


Deep-sea Environmental sequences Foraminifera Komokiacea Phylogeny Ribosomal DNA 



We thank A. Brandt, B. Hilbig, D. Fütterer, E. Fahrbach, and the Captain, officers and crew of the Polarstern for their assistance during the ANDEEP II and III expeditions. We also thank J. Blake for collecting komoki using elutriation technique during “ANDEEP II” expedition. This study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. 3100A0-112645 to J.P.), the Danish Research Agency (Grant no. 95091435 to T.C.), and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (Grant no. NER/B/S/2001/00336 to A.J.G.). This is ANDEEP publication no. 119. This publication also contributes to the CoML field project CeDAMar.

Supplementary material

12526_2009_6_MOESM1_ESM.doc (111 kb)
ESM Table 1 Sampling stations (N North, S South, W West, E East, BC Boxcore, MC Multicore)
12526_2009_6_MOESM2_ESM.doc (294 kb)
ESM Table 2 GenBank accession numbers


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg, Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Lecroq
    • 1
  • A. J. Gooday
    • 2
  • T. Cedhagen
    • 3
  • A. Sabbatini
    • 4
  • J. Pawlowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Animal BiologyUniversity of GenevaGenève 4Switzerland
  2. 2.National Oceanographic Centre, European WaySouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Department of Marine EcologyUniversity of AarhusAarhus NDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Marine SciencesPolytechnic University of MarcheAnconaItaly

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