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Eur J Protistol. 2007 Aug;43(3):171-7. Epub 2007 May 29.

Higher-level phylogeny of Foraminifera inferred from the RNA polymerase II (RPB1) gene.

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  • 1Department of Zoology and Animal Biology, University of Geneva, Sciences III, 30, Quai Ernest Ansermet, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Macroevolutionary relations among main lineages of Foraminifera have traditionally been inferred from the small subunit ribosomal genes (SSU rDNA). However, important discrepancies in the rates of SSU rDNA evolution between major lineages led to difficulties in accurate interpretation of SSU-based phylogenetic reconstructions. Recently, actin and beta-tubulin sequences have been used as alternative markers of foraminiferal phylogeny and their analyses globally confirm results obtained with SSU rDNA. In order to test new protein markers, we sequenced a fragment of the largest subunit of the RNA polymerase II (RPB1), a nuclear encoded single copy gene, for 8 foraminiferal species representing major orders of Foraminifera. Analyses of our data robustly confirm previous SSU rDNA and actin phylogenies and show (i) the paraphyly and ancestral position of monothalamid Foraminifera; (ii) the independent origin of miliolids; (iii) the monophyly of rotaliids, including buliminids and globigerinids; and (iv) the polyphyly of planktonic families Globigerinidae and Candeinidae. Additionally, the RPB1 phylogeny suggests Allogromiidae as the most ancestral foraminiferal lineage. In the light of our study, RPB1 appears as a valuable phylogenetic marker, particularly useful for groups of protists showing extreme variations of evolutionary rates in ribosomal genes.

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