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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Mar;22(3):409-20. Epub 2004 Oct 20.

Root of the Eukaryota tree as inferred from combined maximum likelihood analyses of multiple molecular sequence data.

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  • 1Department of Biosystems Science, Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai), Hayama, Kanagawa, Japan.

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  • Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Apr;22(4):1157.


Extensive studies aiming to establish the structure and root of the Eukaryota tree by phylogenetic analyses of molecular sequences have thus far not resulted in a generally accepted tree. To re-examine the eukaryotic phylogeny using alternative genes, and to obtain a more robust inference for the root of the tree as well as the relationship among major eukaryotic groups, we sequenced the genes encoding isoleucyl-tRNA and valyl-tRNA synthetases, cytosolic-type heat shock protein 90, and the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II from several protists. Combined maximum likelihood analyses of 22 protein-coding genes including the above four genes clearly demonstrated that Diplomonadida and Parabasala shared a common ancestor in the rooted tree of Eukaryota, but only when the fast-evolving sites were excluded from the original data sets. The combined analyses, together with recent findings on the distribution of a fused dihydrofolate reductase-thymidylate synthetase gene, narrowed the possible position of the root of the Eukaryota tree on the branch leading to Opisthokonta or to the common ancestor of Diplomonadida/Parabasala. However, the analyses did not agree with the position of the root located on the common ancestor of Opisthokonta and Amoebozoa, which was argued by Stechmann and Cavalier-Smith [Curr. Biol. 13:R665-666, 2003] based on the presence or absence of a three-gene fusion of the pyrimidine biosynthetic pathway: carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase II, dihydroorotase, and aspartate carbamoyltransferase. The presence of the three-gene fusion recently found in the Cyanidioschyzon merolae (Rhodophyta) genome sequence data supported our analyses against the Stechmann and Cavalier-Smith-rooting in 2003.

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