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Cédric Berney

Postdoctoral fellow in Molecular Systematics & Environmental Genomics

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  • The Protist Ribosomal Reference database (PR2): a catalog of unicellular eukaryote small sub-unit rRNA sequences with curated taxonomy. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Jan;41(Database issue):D597-604. gks1160. 10.1093/nar/gks1160. PMC3531120.

    abstract

    The interrogation of genetic markers in environmental meta-barcoding studies is currently seriously hindered by the lack of taxonomically curated reference data sets for the targeted genes. The Protist Ribosomal Reference database (PR(2), http://ssu-rrna.org/) provides a unique access to eukaryotic small sub-unit (SSU) ribosomal RNA and DNA sequences, with curated taxonomy. The database mainly consists of nuclear-encoded protistan sequences. However, metazoans, land plants, macrosporic fungi and eukaryotic organelles (mitochondrion, plastid and others) are also included because they are useful for the analysis of high-troughput sequencing data sets. Introns and putative chimeric sequences have been also carefully checked. Taxonomic assignation of sequences consists of eight unique taxonomic fields. In total, 136 866 sequences are nuclear encoded, 45 708 (36 501 mitochondrial and 9657 chloroplastic) are from organelles, the remaining being putative chimeric sequences. The website allows the users to download sequences from the entire and partial databases (including representative sequences after clustering at a given level of similarity). Different web tools also allow searches by sequence similarity. The presence of both rRNA and rDNA sequences, taking into account introns (crucial for eukaryotic sequences), a normalized eight terms ranked-taxonomy and updates of new GenBank releases were made possible by a long-term collaboration between experts in taxonomy and computer scientists.

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  • CBOL protist working group: barcoding eukaryotic richness beyond the animal, plant, and fungal kingdoms. PLoS Biol. 2012 ;10(11):e1001419. 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001419. PBIOLOGY-D-12-01686. PMC3491025.

    abstract

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  • A molecular time-scale for eukaryote evolution recalibrated with the continuous microfossil record. Proc. Biol. Sci. 2006 Aug;273(1596):1867-72. U1HN07N0R3RQ4101. 10.1098/rspb.2006.3537. PMC1634798.

    abstract

    Recent attempts to establish a molecular time-scale of eukaryote evolution failed to provide a congruent view on the timing of the origin and early diversification of eukaryotes. The major discrepancies in molecular time estimates are related to questions concerning the calibration of the tree. To limit these uncertainties, we used here as a source of calibration points the rich and continuous microfossil record of dinoflagellates, diatoms and coccolithophorids. We calibrated a small-subunit ribosomal RNA tree of eukaryotes with four maximum and 22 minimum time constraints. Using these multiple calibration points in a Bayesian relaxed molecular clock framework, we inferred that the early radiation of eukaryotes occurred near the Mesoproterozoic-Neoproterozoic boundary, about 1100 million years ago. Our results indicate that most Proterozoic fossils of possible eukaryotic origin cannot be confidently assigned to extant lineages and should therefore not be used as calibration points in molecular dating.

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  • Phylogenetic position of Multicilia marina and the evolution of Amoebozoa. Int. J. Syst. Evol. Microbiol. 2006 Jun;56(Pt 6):1449-58. 56/6/1449. 10.1099/ijs.0.63763-0.

    abstract

    Recent molecular phylogenetic studies have led to the erection of the phylum Amoebozoa, uniting naked and testate lobose amoebae, the mycetozoan slime moulds and amitochondriate amoeboid protists (Archamoebae). Molecular data together with ultrastructural evidence have suggested a close relationship between Mycetozoa and Archamoebae, classified together in the Conosea, which was named after the cone of microtubules that, when present, is characteristic of their kinetids. However, the relationships of conoseans to other amoebozoans remain unclear. Here, we obtained the complete small-subunit (SSU) rRNA gene sequence (2746 bp) of the enigmatic, multiflagellated protist Multicilia marina, which has formerly been classified either in a distinct phylum, Multiflagellata, or among lobose amoebae. Our study clearly shows that Multicilia marina belongs to the Amoebozoa. Phylogenetic analyses including 60 amoebozoan SSU rRNA gene sequences revealed that Multicilia marina branches at the base of the Conosea, together with another flagellated amoebozoan, Phalansterium solitarium, as well as with Gephyramoeba sp., Filamoeba nolandi and two unidentified amoebae. This is the first report showing strong support for a clade containing all flagellated amoebozoans and we discuss the position of the root of the phylum Amoebozoa in the light of this result.

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  • The testate lobose amoebae (order Arcellinida Kent, 1880) finally find their home within Amoebozoa. Protist 2005 Aug;156(2):191-202.

    abstract

    Testate lobose amoebae (order Arcellinida Kent, 1880) are common in all aquatic and terrestrial habitats, yet they are one of the last higher taxa of unicellular eukaryotes that has not found its place in the tree of life. The morphological approach did not allow to ascertain the evolutionary origin of the group or to prove its monophyly. To solve these challenging problems, we analyzed partial small-subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) genes of seven testate lobose amoebae from two out of the three suborders and seven out of the 13 families belonging to the Arcellinida. Our data support the monophyly of the order and clearly establish its position among Amoebozoa, as a sister-group to the clade comprising families Amoebidae and Hartmannellidae. Complete SSU rRNA gene sequences from two species and a partial actin sequence from one species confirm this position. Our phylogenetic analyses including representatives of all sequenced lineages of lobose amoebae suggest that a rigid test appeared only once during the evolution of the Amoebozoa, and allow reinterpretation of some morphological characters used in the systematics of Arcellinida.

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  • Molecular phylogeny and classification of the lobose amoebae. Protist 2005 Aug;156(2):129-42. S1434-4610(05)00041-6. 10.1016/j.protis.2005.06.002.

    abstract

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  • higher-order phylogeny of plasmodial slime molds (Myxogastria) based on elongation factor 1-A and small subunit rRNA gene sequences. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. ;52(3):201-10. JEU05-3363. 10.1111/j.1550-7408.2005.00032.x.

    abstract

    The Myxogastria are common soil microorganisms with a life cycle comprised of a plasmodial trophic stage and large fruiting bodies generally visible with the unaided eye. Until now, their classification has been based exclusively on a combination of morphological, ultrastructural, and developmental characters. Our study is the first attempt to examine phylogenetic relationships among these taxa using molecular data. Partial small-subunit ribosomal RNA and/or elongation factor 1-alpha gene sequences were obtained from eleven, mostly field-collected species representing the five orders of Myxogastria. Nineteen sequences were obtained and subjected to phylogenetic analysis together with 10 sequences available from GenBank. Separate and combined analyses of the two data sets support the division of Myxogastria into three distinct groups. The most basal clade consists of the Echinosteliales, an order considered to have affinities with Protostelia. The three species examined possess unpigmented or slightly pigmented spores. The second group consists of Liceales and Trichiales, taxa characterized by the presence of clear, but pigmented, spores. The third group consists of the two remaining orders, Physarales and Stemonitales, both possessing dark spores. This suggests that spore pigmentation is an evolutionarily conservative character in myxogastrians, and that the simple morphology of echinostelids is not a derived feature.

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  • How many novel eukaryotic 'kingdoms'? Pitfalls and limitations of environmental DNA surveys. BMC Biol. 2004 ;2():13. 10.1186/1741-7007-2-13. 1741-7007-2-13. PMC428588.

    abstract

    Over the past few years, the use of molecular techniques to detect cultivation-independent, eukaryotic diversity has proven to be a powerful approach. Based on small-subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) gene analyses, these studies have revealed the existence of an unexpected variety of new phylotypes. Some of them represent novel diversity in known eukaryotic groups, mainly stramenopiles and alveolates. Others do not seem to be related to any molecularly described lineage, and have been proposed to represent novel eukaryotic kingdoms. In order to review the evolutionary importance of this novel high-level eukaryotic diversity critically, and to test the potential technical and analytical pitfalls and limitations of eukaryotic environmental DNA surveys (EES), we analysed 484 environmental SSU rRNA gene sequences, including 81 new sequences from sediments of the small river, the Seymaz (Geneva, Switzerland).

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  • The twilight of Heliozoa and rise of Rhizaria, an emerging supergroup of amoeboid eukaryotes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2004 May;101(21):8066-71. 10.1073/pnas.0308602101. 0308602101. PMC419558.

    abstract

    Recent molecular phylogenetic studies revealed the extraordinary diversity of single-celled eukaryotes. However, the proper assessment of this diversity and accurate reconstruction of the eukaryote phylogeny are still impeded by the lack of molecular data for some major groups of easily identifiable and cultivable protists. Among them, amoeboid eukaryotes have been notably absent from molecular phylogenies, despite their diversity, complexity, and abundance. To partly fill this phylogenetic gap, we present here combined small-subunit ribosomal RNA and actin sequence data for the three main groups of "Heliozoa" (Actinophryida, Centrohelida, and Desmothoracida), the heliozoan-like Sticholonche, and the radiolarian group Polycystinea. Phylogenetic analyses of our sequences demonstrate the polyphyly of heliozoans, which branch either as an independent eukaryotic lineage (Centrohelida), within stramenopiles (Actinophryida), or among cercozoans (Desmothoracida), in broad agreement with previous ultrastructure-based studies. Our data also provide solid evidence for the existence of the Rhizaria, an emerging supergroup of mainly amoeboid eukaryotes that includes desmothoracid heliozoans, all radiolarians, Sticholonche, and foraminiferans, as well as various filose and reticulose amoebae and some flagellates.

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  • Small-subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequences of Phaeodarea challenge the monophyly of Haeckel's Radiolaria. Protist 2004 Mar;155(1):53-63.

    abstract

    In his grand monograph of Radiolaria, Ernst Haeckel originally included Phaeodarea together with Acantharea and Polycystinea, all three taxa characterized by the presence of a central capsule and the possession of axopodia. Cytological and ultrastructural studies, however, questioned the monophyly of Radiolaria, suggesting an independent evolutionary origin of the three taxa, and the first molecular data on Acantharea and Polycystinea brought controversial results. To test further the monophyly of Radiolaria, we sequenced the complete small subunit ribosomal RNA gene of three phaeodarians and three polycystines. Our analyses reveal that phaeodarians clearly branch among the recently described phylum Cercozoa, separately from Acantharea and Polycystinea. This result enhances the morphological variability within the phylum Cercozoa, which already contains very heterogeneous groups of protists. Our study also confirms the common origin of Acantharea and Polycystinea, which form a sister-group to the Cercozoa, and allows a phylogenetic reinterpretation of the morphological features of the three radiolarian groups.

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  • Revised small subunit rRNA analysis provides further evidence that Foraminifera are related to Cercozoa. J. Mol. Evol. 2003 ;57 Suppl 1():S120-7. 10.1007/s00239-003-0015-2.

    abstract

    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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  • The evolution of early Foraminifera. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2003 Sep;100(20):11494-8. 10.1073/pnas.2035132100. 2035132100. PMC208786.

    abstract

    Fossil Foraminifera appear in the Early Cambrian, at about the same time as the first skeletonized metazoans. However, due to the inadequate preservation of early unilocular (single-chambered) foraminiferal tests and difficulties in their identification, the evolution of early foraminifers is poorly understood. By using molecular data from a wide range of extant naked and testate unilocular species, we demonstrate that a large radiation of nonfossilized unilocular Foraminifera preceded the diversification of multilocular lineages during the Carboniferous. Within this radiation, similar test morphologies and wall types developed several times independently. Our findings indicate that the early Foraminifera were an important component of Neoproterozoic protistan community, whose ecological complexity was probably much higher than has been generally accepted.

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  • Phylogeny of lobose amoebae based on actin and small-subunit ribosomal RNA genes. Mol. Biol. Evol. 2003 Nov;20(11):1881-6. 10.1093/molbev/msg201. msg201.

    abstract

    Lobose amoebae are abundant free-living protists and important pathogenic agents, yet their evolutionary history and position in the universal tree of life are poorly known. Molecular data for lobose amoebae are limited to a few species, and all phylogenetic studies published so far lacked representatives of many of their taxonomic groups. Here we analyze actin and small-subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) gene sequences of a broad taxon sampling of naked, lobose amoebae. Our results support the existence of a monophyletic Amoebozoa clade, which comprises all lobose amoebae examined so far, the amitochondriate pelobionts and entamoebids, and the slime molds. Both actin and SSU rRNA phylogenies distinguish two well-defined clades of amoebae, the "Gymnamoebia sensu stricto" and the Archamoebae (pelobionts + entamoebids), and one weakly supported and ill-resolved group comprising some naked, lobose amoebae and the Mycetozoa.

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  • Phylogenetic position of Gromia oviformis Dujardin inferred from nuclear-encoded small subunit ribosomal DNA. Protist 2002 Sep;153(3):251-60.

    abstract

    Gromia oviformis Dujardin is a common marine protist characterised by a large, globular test and filose pseudopodia. First considered a foraminifer, Gromia was later placed within the Filosea and recently included among amoebae of uncertain affinities. In order to clarify the phylogenetic position of this genus, we sequenced the complete small-subunit ribosomal DNA gene of G. oviformis collected at five different geographic localities. The high divergence of obtained sequences suggests that G. oviformis is a species complex composed of several genetically distinct sibling species. Sequence analyses show Gromia to be a member of the Cercozoa, a heterogeneous assemblage which includes filose amoebae, the amoeboflagellate cercomonads, the chlorarachniophytes and the plasmodiophorid plant pathogens. Contrary to traditional classification, Gromia is not closely related to other testate filose amoebae (the Euglyphida), but seems to branch early among the Cercozoa. Our analyses also show a close relationship between the Cercozoa and the Acantharea. Because the Cercozoa are related to the Foraminifera based on other molecular data, we propose that most protists possessing filopodia, reticulopodia and axopodia have a common origin.

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