The metamonads are a large group of flagellate amitochondriate protozoa. Their composition is not entirely settled, but they include the retortamonads, diplomonads, and possibly the parabasalids and oxymonads as well. These four groups are all anaerobic, occurring mostly as symbiotes of animals.
These flagellates are unusual in lacking mitochondria. Originally they were considered among the most primitive eukaryotes, diverging from the others before mitochondria appeared. However, they are now known to have lost mitochondria secondarily, and retain both organelles and nuclear genes derived from them. Mitochondrial relics include hydrogenosomes, which produce hydrogen, and small structures called mitosomes.
All of these groups are united by having flagella or basal bodies in characteristic groups of four, which are often associated with the nucleus, forming a structure called a karyomastigont. In addition, the genera Carpediemonas and Trimastix are now known to be close relatives of the retortamonad-diplomonad line and the oxymonads, respectively. Both are free-living and amitochondriate.
The metamonads make up part of the excavates, a eukaryotic supergroup including flagellates with feeding grooves and their close relatives. Their relationships are uncertain, and they do not always appear together on molecular trees. It is possible that the metamonads as defined here do not form a monophyletic subgroup.
- Cavalier-Smith T (November 2003). "The excavate protozoan phyla Metamonada Grassé emend. (Anaeromonadea, Parabasalia, Carpediemonas, Eopharyngia) and Loukozoa emend. (Jakobea, Malawimonas): their evolutionary affinities and new higher taxa". Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 53 (Pt 6): 1741–58. PMID 14657102. doi:10.1099/ijs.0.02548-0.