We compared 16S-like ribosomal RNA (rRNA) coding regions of samples of the solitary spumellarian radiolarian Thalassicolla nucleata collected from the Sargasso Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Sequences derived from these locations showed variability in both length and base-pair composition. This level of sequence variability is similar to the degree of variability reported in the literature for species- or even genus-level distinctions. Explanations for our results include multiple alleles for the rRNA gene, or the existence of multiple species of Thalassicolla that are morphologically indistinguishable. The seven existing descriptions of Thalassicolla species, including T. nucleata, are discussed in view of these molecular findings and with reference to our current understanding of the physiology and life cycle of the spumellarian radiolaria.
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