The Mesomycetozoea (or DRIP clade, or Ichthyosporea) are a small group of Opisthokonta in Eukarya (formerly protists), mostly parasites of fish and other animals.
They are not particularly distinctive morphologically, appearing in host tissues as enlarged spheres or ovals containing spores, and most were originally classified in various groups as fungi, protozoa, or colorless algae. However, they form a coherent group on molecular trees, closely related to both animals and fungi and so of interest to biologists studying their origins. In a 2008 study they emerge robustly as the sister-group of the clade Filozoa, which includes the animals.
Huldtgren et al., following x-ray tomography of microfossils of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation, has interpreted them as mesomycetozoan spore capsules.
Eukaryota tree. Note "Ichthyosporea" at bottom left, in Opisthokont
clade. "Metazoa" are animals, and Choanoflagellates
are closely aligned. Fungi is at other end of Opisthokont clade, with Cristidiscoidea
closely aligned. Ichthyosporea is in the middle ("Meso-") of the fungi ("-myceto-") and the animals ("-zoea").
The name DRIP is an acronym for the first protozoa identified as members of the group, Cavalier-Smith later treated them as the class Ichthyosporea, since they were all parasites of fish.
Since other new members have been added (e.g. the former fungal orders Eccrinales and Amoebidiales), Mendoza et al. suggested changing the name to Mesomycetozoea, which refers to their evolutionary position. On Eukaryota tree, in Opisthokont clade, Mesomycetozoea is in the middle ("Meso-") of the fungi ("-myceto-") and the animals ("-zoea"). Note the name Mesomycetozoa (without a second e) is also used to refer to this group, but Mendoza et al. use it as an alternate name for the phylum Choanozoa.
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