In 1923 Alexeieff described a new amoebic species within a new genus and named it Hyperamoeba flagellata. This amoeba exhibits three life cycle stages, an amoeboid trophozoite, a flagellated stage, and a cyst—like the heteroloboseans, the mastigamoebae, and several slime moulds. Since then more strains have been isolated and relationships to the protostelids and cercomonads and to the myxogastrid plasmodial slime moulds have been suggested. However, up to now the classification and phylogenetic position of the hyperamoebae has remained unclear. The aim of our study was to make an approach to the phylogeny of the genus Hyperamoeba with combined morphological and molecular biological data. Since 1988 we have isolated and collected Hyperamoeba-like strains from different aquatic and terrestrial sources. The 18S rDNA-sequences of 8 new Hyperamoeba strains isolated from various habitats were analysed and a cluster analysis was performed including all other available hyperamoebae. Altogether, the results of our study corroborate the relatedness of Hyperamoeba to various slime moulds. However, the hyperamoebae do not seem to be a monophyletic group, clearly putting the validity of the genus Hyperamoeba into question.
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Vol. 51 • No. 4