Phylogenomics reveals a new 'megagroup' including most photosynthetic eukaryotes.
ABSTRACT: Advances in molecular phylogeny of eukaryotes have suggested a tree composed of a small number of supergroups. Phylogenomics recently established the relationships between some of these large assemblages, yet the deepest nodes are still unresolved. Here, we investigate early evolution among the major eukaryotic supergroups using the broadest multigene dataset to date (65 species, 135 genes). Our analyses provide strong support for the clustering of plants, chromalveolates, rhizarians, haptophytes and cryptomonads, thus linking nearly all photosynthetic lineages and raising the question of a possible unique origin of plastids. At its deepest level, the tree of eukaryotes now receives strong support for two monophyletic megagroups comprising most of the eukaryotic diversity.
Project description:Understanding the early evolution and diversification of eukaryotes relies on a fully resolved phylogenetic tree. In recent years, most eukaryotic diversity has been assigned to six putative supergroups, but the evolutionary origin of a few major "orphan" lineages remains elusive. Two ecologically important orphan groups are the heterotrophic Telonemia and Centroheliozoa. Telonemids have been proposed to be related to the photosynthetic cryptomonads or stramenopiles and centrohelids to haptophytes, but molecular phylogenies have failed to provide strong support for any phylogenetic hypothesis. Here, we investigate the origins of Telonema subtilis (a telonemid) and Raphidiophrys contractilis (a centrohelid) by large-scale 454 pyrosequencing of cDNA libraries and including new genomic data from two cryptomonads (Guillardia theta and Plagioselmis nannoplanctica) and a haptophyte (Imantonia rotunda). We demonstrate that 454 sequencing of cDNA libraries is a powerful and fast method of sampling a high proportion of protist genes, which can yield ample information for phylogenomic studies. Our phylogenetic analyses of 127 genes from 72 species indicate that telonemids and centrohelids are members of an emerging major group of eukaryotes also comprising cryptomonads and haptophytes. Furthermore, this group is possibly closely related to the SAR clade comprising stramenopiles (heterokonts), alveolates, and Rhizaria. Our results link two additional heterotrophic lineages to the predominantly photosynthetic chromalveolate supergroup, providing a new framework for interpreting the evolution of eukaryotic cell structures and the diversification of plastids.
Project description:Resolving the phylogenetic relationships between eukaryotes is an ongoing challenge of evolutionary biology. In recent years, the accumulation of molecular data led to a new evolutionary understanding, in which all eukaryotic diversity has been classified into five or six supergroups. Yet, the composition of these large assemblages and their relationships remain controversial.Here, we report the sequencing of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) for two species belonging to the supergroup Rhizaria and present the analysis of a unique dataset combining 29908 amino acid positions and an extensive taxa sampling made of 49 mainly unicellular species representative of all supergroups. Our results show a very robust relationship between Rhizaria and two main clades of the supergroup chromalveolates: stramenopiles and alveolates. We confirm the existence of consistent affinities between assemblages that were thought to belong to different supergroups of eukaryotes, thus not sharing a close evolutionary history.This well supported phylogeny has important consequences for our understanding of the evolutionary history of eukaryotes. In particular, it questions a single red algal origin of the chlorophyll-c containing plastids among the chromalveolates. We propose the abbreviated name 'SAR' (Stramenopiles+Alveolates+Rhizaria) to accommodate this new super assemblage of eukaryotes, which comprises the largest diversity of unicellular eukaryotes.
Project description:Recent multigene phylogenetic analyses have contributed much to our understanding of eukaryotic phylogeny. However, the phylogenetic positions of various lineages within the eukaryotes have remained unresolved or in conflict between different phylogenetic studies. These phylogenetic ambiguities might have resulted from mixtures or integration from various factors including limited taxon sampling, missing data in the alignment, saturations of rapidly evolving genes, mixed analyses of short- and long-branched operational taxonomic units (OTUs), intracellular endoparasite and ciliate OTUs with unusual substitution etc. In order to evaluate the effects from intracellular endoparasite and ciliate OTUs co-analyzed on the eukaryotic phylogeny and simplify the results, we here used two different sets of data matrices of multiple slowly evolving genes with small amounts of missing data and examined the phylogenetic position of the secondary photosynthetic chromalveolates Haptophyta, one of the most abundant groups of oceanic phytoplankton and significant primary producers. In both sets, a robust sister relationship between Haptophyta and SAR (stramenopiles, alveolates, rhizarians, or SA [stramenopiles and alveolates]) was resolved when intracellular endoparasite/ciliate OTUs were excluded, but not in their presence. Based on comparisons of character optimizations on a fixed tree (with a clade composed of haptophytes and SAR or SA), disruption of the monophyly between haptophytes and SAR (or SA) in the presence of intracellular endoparasite/ciliate OTUs can be considered to be a result of multiple evolutionary reversals of character positions that supported the synapomorphy of the haptophyte and SAR (or SA) clade in the absence of intracellular endoparasite/ciliate OTUs.
Project description:Nitrile hydratases are enzymes involved in the conversion of nitrile-containing compounds into ammonia and organic acids. Although they are widespread in prokaryotes, nitrile hydratases have only been reported in two eukaryotes: the choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis and the stramenopile Aureococcus anophagefferens. The nitrile hydratase gene in M. brevicollis was believed to have arisen by lateral gene transfer from a prokaryote, and is a fusion of beta and alpha nitrile hydratase subunits. Only the alpha subunit has been reported in A. anophagefferens.Here we report the detection of nitrile hydratase genes in five eukaryotic supergroups: opisthokonts, amoebozoa, archaeplastids, CCTH and SAR. Beta-alpha subunit fusion genes are found in the choanoflagellates, ichthyosporeans, apusozoans, haptophytes, rhizarians and stramenopiles, and potentially also in the amoebozoans. An individual alpha subunit is found in a dinoflagellate and an individual beta subunit is found in a haptophyte. Phylogenetic analyses recover a clade of eukaryotic-type nitrile hydratases in the Opisthokonta, Amoebozoa, SAR and CCTH; this is supported by analyses of introns and gene architecture. Two nitrile hydratase sequences from an animal and a plant resolve in the prokaryotic nitrile hydratase clade.The evidence presented here demonstrates that nitrile hydratase genes are present in multiple eukaryotic supergroups, suggesting that a subunit fusion gene was present in the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes. The absence of nitrile hydratase from several sequenced species indicates that subunits were lost in multiple eukaryotic taxa. The presence of nitrile hydratases in many other eukaryotic groups is unresolved due to insufficient data and taxon sampling. The retention and expression of the gene in distantly related eukaryotic species suggests that it plays an important metabolic role. The novel family of eukaryotic nitrile hydratases presented in this paper represents a promising candidate for research into their molecular biology and possible biotechnological applications.
Project description:Plastids (photosynthetic organelles of plants and algae) are known to have spread between eukaryotic lineages by secondary endosymbiosis, that is, by the uptake of a eukaryotic alga by another eukaryote. But the number of times this has taken place is controversial. This is particularly so in the case of eukaryotes with plastids derived from red algae, which are numerous and diverse. Despite their diversity, it has been suggested that all these eukaryotes share a recent common ancestor and that their plastids originated in a single endosymbiosis, the so-called "chromalveolate hypothesis." Here we describe a novel molecular character that supports the chromalveolate hypothesis. Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase (FBA) is a glycolytic and Calvin cycle enzyme that exists as two nonhomologous types, class I and class II. Red algal plastid-targeted FBA is a class I enzyme related to homologues from plants and green algae, and it would be predicted that the plastid-targeted FBA from algae with red algal secondary endosymbionts should be related to this class I enzyme. However, we show that plastid-targeted FBA of heterokonts, cryptomonads, haptophytes, and dinoflagellates (all photosynthetic chromalveolates) are class II plastid-targeted enzymes, completely unlike those of red algal plastids. The chromalveolate enzymes form a strongly supported group in FBA phylogeny, and their common possession of this unexpected plastid characteristic provides new evidence for their close relationship and a common origin for their plastids.
Project description:Integration of ultrastructural and molecular sequence data has revealed six supergroups of eukaryote organisms (excavates, Rhizaria, chromalveolates, Plantae, Amoebozoa and opisthokonts), and the root of the eukaryote evolutionary tree is suggested to lie between unikonts (Amoebozoa, opisthokonts) and bikonts (the other supergroups). However, some smaller lineages remain of uncertain affinity. One of these unassigned taxa is the anaerobic, free-living, amoeboid flagellate Breviata anathema, which is of key significance as it is unclear whether it is a unikont (i.e. possibly the deepest branching amoebozoan) or a bikont. To establish its evolutionary position, we sequenced thousands of Breviata genes and calculated trees using 78 protein sequences. Our trees and specific substitutions in the 18S RNA sequence indicate that Breviata is related to other Amoebozoa, thereby significantly increasing the cellular diversity of this phylum and establishing Breviata as a deep-branching unikont. We discuss the implications of these results for the ancestral state of Amoebozoa and eukaryotes generally, demonstrating that phylogenomics of phylogenetically 'nomadic' species can elucidate key questions in eukaryote evolution. Furthermore, mitochondrial genes among the Breviata ESTs demonstrate that Breviata probably contains a modified anaerobic mitochondrion. With these findings, remnants of mitochondria have been detected in all putatively deep-branching amitochondriate organisms.
Project description:Peroxisomes are single-membrane-bound organelles with a huge metabolic versatility, including the degradation of fatty acids (?-oxidation) and the detoxification of reactive oxygen species as most conserved functions. Although peroxisomes seem to be present in the majority of investigated eukaryotes, where they are responsible for many eclectic and important spatially separated metabolic reactions, knowledge about their existence in the plethora of protists (eukaryotic microorganisms) is scarce. Here, we investigated genomic data of organisms containing complex plastids with red algal ancestry (so-called "chromalveolates") for the presence of genes encoding peroxins-factors specific for the biogenesis, maintenance, and division of peroxisomes in eukaryotic cells. Our focus was on the cryptophyte Guillardia theta, a marine microalga, which possesses two phylogenetically different nuclei of host and endosymbiont origin, respectively, thus being of enormous evolutionary significance. Besides the identification of a complete set of peroxins in G. theta, we heterologously localized selected factors as GFP fusion proteins via confocal and electron microscopy in the model diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum. Furthermore, we show that peroxins, and thus most likely peroxisomes, are present in haptophytes as well as eustigmatophytes, brown algae, and alveolates including dinoflagellates, chromerids, and noncoccidian apicomplexans. Our results indicate that diatoms are not the only "chromalveolate" group devoid of the PTS2 receptor Pex7, and thus a PTS2-dependent peroxisomal import pathway, which seems to be absent in haptophytes (Emiliania huxleyi) as well. Moreover, important aspects of peroxisomal biosynthesis and protein import in "chromalveolates"are highlighted.
Project description:The extent and role of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in phytoplankton and, more broadly, eukaryotic evolution remain controversial topics. Recent studies substantiate the importance of HGT in modifying or expanding functions such as metal or reactive species detoxification and buttressing halotolerance. Yet, the potential of HGT to significantly alter the fate of species in a major eukaryotic assemblage remains to be established. We provide such an example for the ecologically important lineages encompassed by cryptophytes, rhizarians, alveolates, stramenopiles, and haptophytes ("CRASH" taxa). We describe robust evidence of prokaryotic HGTs in these taxa affecting functions such as polysaccharide biosynthesis. Numbers of HGTs range from 0.16 to 1.44% of CRASH species gene inventories, comparable to the ca. 1% prokaryote-derived HGTs found in the genomes of extremophilic red algae. Our results substantially expand the impact of HGT in eukaryotes and define a set of general principles for prokaryotic gene fixation in phytoplankton genomes.
Project description:Recent phylogenetic analyses position certain "orphan" protist lineages deep in the tree of eukaryotic life, but their exact placements are poorly resolved. We conducted phylogenomic analyses that incorporate deeply sequenced transcriptomes from representatives of collodictyonids (diphylleids), rigifilids, Mantamonas, and ancyromonads (planomonads). Analyses of 351 genes, using site-heterogeneous mixture models, strongly support a novel super-group-level clade that includes collodictyonids, rigifilids, and Mantamonas, which we name "CRuMs". Further, they robustly place CRuMs as the closest branch to Amorphea (including animals and fungi). Ancyromonads are strongly inferred to be more distantly related to Amorphea than are CRuMs. They emerge either as sister to malawimonads, or as a separate deeper branch. CRuMs and ancyromonads represent two distinct major groups that branch deeply on the lineage that includes animals, near the most commonly inferred root of the eukaryote tree. This makes both groups crucial in examinations of the deepest-level history of extant eukaryotes.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Classification of eukaryotes provides a fundamental phylogenetic framework for ecological, medical, and industrial research. In recent years eukaryotes have been classified into six major supergroups: Amoebozoa, Archaeplastida, Chromalveolata, Excavata, Opisthokonta, and Rhizaria. According to this supergroup classification, Archaeplastida and Chromalveolata each arose from a single plastid-generating endosymbiotic event involving a cyanobacterium (Archaeplastida) or red alga (Chromalveolata). Although the plastids within members of the Archaeplastida and Chromalveolata share some features, no nucleocytoplasmic synapomorphies supporting these supergroups are currently known. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study was designed to test the validity of the Archaeplastida and Chromalveolata through the analysis of nucleus-encoded eukaryotic translation elongation factor 2 (EEF2) and cytosolic heat-shock protein of 70 kDa (HSP70) sequences generated from the glaucophyte Cyanophora paradoxa, the cryptophytes Goniomonas truncata and Guillardia theta, the katablepharid Leucocryptos marina, the rhizarian Thaumatomonas sp. and the green alga Mesostigma viride. The HSP70 phylogeny was largely unresolved except for certain well-established groups. In contrast, EEF2 phylogeny recovered many well-established eukaryotic groups and, most interestingly, revealed a well-supported clade composed of cryptophytes, katablepharids, haptophytes, rhodophytes, and Viridiplantae (green algae and land plants). This clade is further supported by the presence of a two amino acid signature within EEF2, which appears to have arisen from amino acid replacement before the common origin of these eukaryotic groups. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our EEF2 analysis strongly refutes the monophyly of the Archaeplastida and the Chromalveolata, adding to a growing body of evidence that limits the utility of these supergroups. In view of EEF2 phylogeny and other morphological evidence, we discuss the possibility of an alternative eukaryotic supergroup.