Eighteen strains of flagellated protists representing nine species were isolated and cultured front four deep-sea hydrothermal vents: Juan de Fuca Ridge (2,200 m), Guaymas Basin (2,000 m), 21 degrees N (2,550 m) and 9 degrees N (2,000 m). Light and electron microscopy were used to identify flagellates to genus and, when possible, species. The small subunit ribosomal RNA genes of each vent species and related strains from shallow-waters and the American Type Culture Collection were sequenced then used for comparative analysis with database sequences to place taxa in an rDNA tree. The hydrothermal vent flagellates belonged to six different taxonomic orders: the Ancyromonadida, Bicosoecida, Cercomonadida, Choanoflagellida, Chrysomonadida, and Kinetoplastida. Comparative analysis of vent isolate and database sequences resolved systematic placement of some well-known species with previously uncertain taxonomic affinities, such as Ancyromonas sigmoides, Caecitellus parvulus, and Mussisteria marina. Many of these vent isolates are ubiquitous members of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems worldwide, suggesting a global distribution of these flagellate species.
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