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The Choanoflagellates: Evolution, Biology and Ecology

  • The first book to gather what is currently known about choanoflagellates – describes their ultrastructure, silicon utilisation for skeletal purposes, contribution to microbial food webs, and molecular phylogeny
  • Provides a full analysis of lorica structure, including the method of production and assembly – presenting the results obtained from electron microscopy, observation of living cells and computer reconstruction
  • Offers a novel explanation for the morphological and evolutionary relationship between two variations on cell division and lorica production, and discusses the possible relationship between 'nudiform' and 'tectiform' lorica production and cell division for the first time

By: Barry SC Leadbeater(Author)

315 pages, 470 b/w photos and illustrations, 43 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jan 2015 | #215410 | ISBN-13: 9780521884440
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £85.99 $109/€96 approx

About this book

Choanoflagellates have three distinctive claims to fame: they are the closest, living, unicellular relatives of animals; they are a major component of aquatic microbial foodwebs (the microbial loop); and one group is remarkable for its siliceous basket-like coverings. This landmark book offers a unique synthesis of over 40 years of choanoflagellates research. Key areas are covered, from the phylogenetic evidence supporting the sister-group relationship between choanoflagellates and Metazoa, to choanoflagellate distribution and diversity in marine and freshwater environments. The structure and assembly of choanoflagellate loricae is also presented together with a full discussion of a novel example of 'regulatory evolution', suggesting that the switch from nudiform to tectiform cell division and lorica production was achieved by a sudden reorganization of existing structures and mechanisms. Providing an authoritative summary of what is currently known about choanoflagellates, The Choanoflagellates: Evolution, Biology and Ecology will serve as a foundation upon which future research and discussion can take place.

"[...] this book provides a rich source of information that will provide ecologists with a deeper insight into their role. Their evolutionary significance, which is already widely appreciated, is superbly documented in this well-produced and detailed survey."
– Peter Moore, BES Bulletin 46(4), December 2015

"We look around and see a world full of animals, plants and fungi, but our eyes our deceptive. Most life on Earth is microscopic. Amongst the great diversity of single-celled life, the choanoflagellates deserve our special attention. As well as being important ecologically, choanoflagellates occupy a position of pivotal significance in the evolution of life. They are the closest single-celled relatives of the animal kingdom. To understand how animals evolved, we must study choanoflagellates. In this landmark book, Barry Leadbeater ranges from ecology and evolution, through to cell biology and ultrastructure, to reveal the secrets and the significance of these important and amazingly beautiful organisms."
– Peter Holland, University of Oxford

"Leadbeater is the world's foremost authority on choanoflagellates and has crafted a beautifully-written and fascinating treatment of their biology, diversity, and potential to reveal the protozoan ancestry of animals. The reader's journey starts in the mid-1800s, with Leadbeater providing a definitive history of the discoveries, missteps, controversies, personal rivalries and ultimate resolutions of important questions surrounding the early study of these important organisms. From there, Leadbeater provides an exhaustive accounting of what is currently known about the cell biology, physiology, ecology, and evolution of choanoflagellates, while also pointing out the many mysteries and outstanding questions that remain. The community of choanoflagellate researchers is growing, in large part due to the foundational research of Barry Leadbeater, and this book will be essential reading for all those interested in the lessons that choanoflagellates have to teach us about animal origins, microbial ecology, and the regulation of complex cellular ultrastructures."
– Nicole King, University of California

"A significant strength of the book is its comprehensive approach to all aspects of choanoflagellate biology combined with the author's extensive experience with this group [...] an all-embracing state-of-the-art snapshot of choanoflagellate research [...] a valuable book for anyone interested in the diversity of eukaryotes and the biology of heterotrophic nanoflagellates and a must for anyone addressing any aspect of choanoflagellate biology."
– Jens Boenigk, Marine Biology Research

"Barry Leadbeater has given us the book [the choanoflagellates] deserve and every protistologist should have this in their personal library."
– John R. Dolan, Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology

"This book is a beautiful, current compendium on choanoflagellates."
– Jack Cohen, The Biologist



1. Historical perspectives
2. The collared flagellate: functional morphology and Ultrastructure
3. Craspedida: choanoflagellates with exclusively organic coverings
4. Loricate choanoflagellates: Acanthoecida
5. Loricate choanoflagellates: requirement for silicon and its deposition in costal strips
6. Loricate choanoflagellates: Acanthoecidae - nudiform species
7. Loricate choanoflagellates: Stephanoecidae - tectiform species
8. Loricate choanoflagellates: evolutionary relationship between the nudiform and tectiform conditions
9. Choanoflagellate ecology
10. Choanoflagellate phylogeny: evolution of metazoan multicellularity

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Barry S. C. Leadbeater is a retired Reader in Protistology at the University of Birmingham. His academic research interests include: ultrastructure, physiology and ecology of algae and protozoa, whereas his biotechnological research interests include: algae and water quality; physiology of algal/protistan biofilms and biological aspects of water treatment processes. He has authored and co-authored over 80 papers, edited five books and, presently, he is a monitoring editor of the journal Protist.

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