Monophyly of Rhizaria and multigene phylogeny of unicellular bikonts.

  • publication
  • 11-07-2006

Burki F, Pawlowski J. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2006 Oct;23(10):1922-30. msl055. 10.1093/molbev/msl055.

Reconstructing a global phylogeny of eukaryotes is an ongoing challenge of molecular phylogenetics. The availability of genomic data from a broad range of eukaryotic phyla helped in resolving the eukaryotic tree into a topology with a rather small number of large assemblages, but the relationships between these "supergroups" are yet to be confirmed. Rhizaria is the most recently recognized "supergroup," but, in spite of this important position within the tree of life, their representatives are still missing in global phylogenies of eukaryotes. Here, we report the first large-scale analysis of eukaryote phylogeny including data for 2 rhizarian species, the foraminiferan Reticulomyxa filosa and the chlorarachniophyte Bigelowiella natans. Our results confirm the monophyly of Rhizaria (Foraminifera + Cercozoa), with very high bootstrap supports in all analyses. The overall topology of our trees is in agreement with the current view of eukaryote phylogeny with basal division into "unikonts" (Opisthokonts and Ameobozoa) and "bikonts" (Plantae, alveolates, stramenopiles, and excavates). As expected, Rhizaria branch among bikonts; however, their phylogenetic position is uncertain. Depending on the data set and the type of analysis, Rhizaria branch as sister group to either stramenopiles or excavates. Overall, the relationships between the major groups of unicellular bikonts are poorly resolved, despite the use of 85 proteins and the largest taxonomic sampling for this part of the tree available to date. This may be due to an acceleration of evolutionary rates in some bikont phyla or be related to their rapid diversification in the early evolution of eukaryotes.

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