One highly diverse phylogenetic group of Bacteria,
. Patescibacteria, remains poorly understood, but, from the few cultured representatives and metagenomic investigations, they are thought to live symbiotically or parasitically with other bacteria or even with eukarya.
Tripartite symbioses between anaerobic ciliated protists and their intracellular archaeal and bacterial symbionts are not uncommon, but most reports have been based mainly on microscopic observations. Deeper insights into the function, ecology, and evolution of these fascinating symbioses involving partners from all three domains of life have been hampered by the difficulties of culturing anaerobic ciliates in the laboratory and the frequent loss of their prokaryotic partners during long-term cultivation. In the present study, we report the isolation of an anaerobic scuticociliate, strain GW7, which has been stably maintained in our laboratory for more than 3 years without losing either of its endosymbionts. Unexpectedly, molecular characterization of the endosymbionts revealed that the bacterial partner of GW7 is phylogenetically related to intranuclear endosymbionts of aerobic ciliates. This strain will enable future genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic analyses of the interactions in this tripartite symbiosis and a comparison with endosymbioses in aerobic ciliates.