There is accumulating evidence that the general shape of the ribosomal DNA-based phylogeny of Eukaryotes is strongly biased by the long-branch attraction phenomenon, leading to an artifactual basal clustering of groups that are probably highly derived. Among these groups, Foraminifera are of particular interest, because their deep phylogenetic position in ribosomal trees contrasts with their Cambrian appearance in the fossil record. A recent actin-based phylogeny of Eukaryotes has proposed that Foraminifera might be closely related to Cercozoa and, thus, branch among the so-called crown of Eukaryotes. Here, we reanalyze the small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene (SSU rDNA) phylogeny by removing all long-branching lineages that could artifactually attract foraminiferan sequences to the base of the tree. Our analyses reveal that Foraminifera branch together with the marine testate filosean Gromia oviformis as a sister group to Cercozoa, in agreement with actin phylogeny. Our study confirms the utility of SSU rDNA as a phylogenetic marker of megaevolutionary history, provided that the artifacts due to the heterogeneity of substitution rates in ribosomal genes are circumvented.
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