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Microbiol Rev. 1993 December; 57(4): 953–994.
PMCID: PMC372943

Kingdom protozoa and its 18 phyla.


The demarcation of protist kingdoms is reviewed, a complete revised classification down to the level of subclass is provided for the kingdoms Protozoa, Archezoa, and Chromista, and the phylogenetic basis of the revised classification is outlined. Removal of Archezoa because of their ancestral absence of mitochondria, peroxisomes, and Golgi dictyosomes makes the kingdom Protozoa much more homogeneous: they all either have mitochondria and peroxisomes or have secondarily lost them. Predominantly phagotrophic, Protozoa are distinguished from the mainly photosynthetic kingdom Chromista (Chlorarachniophyta, Cryptista, Heterokonta, and Haptophyta) by the absence of epiciliary retronemes (rigid thrust-reversing tubular ciliary hairs) and by the lack of two additional membranes outside their chloroplast envelopes. The kingdom Protozoa has two subkingdoms: Adictyozoa, without Golgi dictyosomes, containing only the phylum Percolozoa (flagellates and amoeboflagellates); and Dictyozoa, made up of 17 phyla with Golgi dictyosomes. Dictyozoa are divided into two branches: (i) Parabasalia, a single phylum with hydrogenosomes and 70S ribosomes but no mitochondria, Golgi dictyosomes associated with striated roots, and a kinetid of four or five cilia; and (ii) Bikonta (16 unicellular or plasmodial phyla with mitochondria and bikinetids and in which Golgi dictyosomes are not associated with striated ciliary roots), which are divided into two infrakingdoms: Euglenozoa (flagellates with discoid mitochondrial cristae and trans-splicing of miniexons for all nuclear genes) and Neozoa (15 phyla of more advanced protozoa with tubular or flat [usually nondiscoid] mitochondrial cristae and cis-spliced spliceosomal introns). Neozoa are divided into seven parvkingdoms: (i) Ciliomyxa (three predominantly ciliated phyla with tubular mitochondrial cristae but no cortical alveoli, i.e., Opalozoa [flagellates with tubular cristae], Mycetozoa [slime molds], and Choanozoa [choanoflagellates, with flattened cristae]); (ii) Alveolata (three phyla with cortical alveoli and tubular mitochondrial cristae, i.e., Dinozoa [Dinoflagellata and Protalveolata], Apicomplexa, and Ciliophora); (iii) Neosarcodina (phyla Rhizopoda [lobose and filose amoebae] and Reticulosa [foraminifera; reticulopodial amoebae], usually with tubular cristae); (iv) Actinopoda (two phyla with axopodia: Heliozoa and Radiozoa [Radiolaria, Acantharia]); (v) Entamoebia (a single phylum of amoebae with no mitochondria, peroxisomes, hydrogenosomes, or cilia and with transient intranuclear centrosomes); (vi) Myxozoa (three endoparasitic phyla with multicellular spores, mitochondria, and no cilia: Myxosporidia, Haplosporidia, and Paramyxia); and (vii) Mesozoa (multicells with tubular mitochondrial cristae, included in Protozoa because, unlike animals, they lack collagenous connective tissue).

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