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Oxymonas is a genus of Oxymonad protist found in the hindgut of drywood termites (family Kalotermitidae). Many genera of drywood termites are invasive pests globally. The hindgut microbiome of Cryptotermes brevis, the West Indian drywood termite, has not been described in detail, and only one published sequence exists of Oxymonas from C. brevis. This study aims to analyze Oxymonas sequences in C. brevis from whole gut genetic material, as well as to dissect its place in phylogenetic trees of Oxymonas and how it fits into specific and evolutionary patterns. To amplify the 18S rRNA gene Oxymonas from C. brevis, the MasterPure DNA extraction kit was used, followed by PCR amplification, followed by agarose gel electrophoresis, followed by purification of the resulting gel bands, followed by ligation/transformation on to an LB agar plate, followed by cloning the resulting bacterial colonies, and topped off by colony screening. The colony screening PCR products were then sequenced in the Genomics Core, assembled in Geneious, aligned and trimmed into a phylogenetic tree, along with several long-read amplicon sequences from Oxymonas in other drywood termites. All whole gut sequences and one amplicon from C. brevis formed a single clade, sharing an ancestor with a sister clade of Oxymonas sp. from C. cavifrons and Procryptotermes leewardensis, but the other long-read fell into its own clade in a different spot on the tree. It can be conjectured that the latter sequence was contaminated and that the C. brevis clones are a monophyletic group, a notion further corroborated by a distantly related clade featuring sequences from Cryptotermes dudleyi, which in turn has a sister taxon of Oxymonas clones from C. cavifrons and P. leewardensis, pointing toward a different kind of co-diversification of the hosts and symbionts rather than cospeciation.
Of those families examined, the results are broadly consistent with Todaka et al. 2010, though none of the GHFs found were expressed in both termite-associated protist and non-termite-associated protist transcriptome data. This suggests that, rather than being inherited from their free-living protist ancestors, GHF genes were acquired by termite protists while within the termite gut, potentially via lateral gene transfer (LGT). For example one family, GHF10, implies a single acquisition of a bacterial xylanase into termite protists. The phylogenies from GHF5 and GHF11 each imply two distinct acquisitions in termite protist ancestors, each from bacteria. In eukaryote-dominated GHFs, GHF7 and GHF45, there are three apparent acquisitions by termite protists. Meanwhile, it appears prior reports of GHF62 in the termite gut may have been misidentified GHF43 sequences. GHF43 was the only GHF found to contain sequences from the protists not found in the termite gut. These findings generally all support the possibility termite-associated protists adapted to a lignocellulosic diet after colonization of the termite hindgut. Nonetheless, the poor resolution of GHF phylogeny and limited termite and protist sampling constrain interpretation.