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Mol Biol Evol. 1999 Jun;16(6):817-25.

Archaea sister group of Bacteria? Indications from tree reconstruction artifacts in ancient phylogenies.

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Phylogénie et Evolution Moléculaires (UPRES-A 8080 CNRS), Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France.


The 54-kDa signal recognition particle and the receptor SR alpha, two proteins involved in the cotranslational translocation of proteins, are paralogs. They originate from a gene duplication that occurred prior to the last universal common ancestor, allowing one to root the universal tree of life. Phylogenetic analysis using standard methods supports the generally accepted cluster of Archaea and Eucarya. However, a new method increasing the signal-to-noise ratio strongly suggests that this result is due to a long-branch attraction artifact, with the Bacteria evolving fastest. In fact, the Archaea/Eucarya sisterhood is recovered only by the fast-evolving positions. In contrast, the most slowly evolving positions, which are the most likely to retain the ancient phylogenetic signal, support the monophyly of prokaryotes. Such a eukaryotic rooting provides a simple explanation for the high similarity of Archaea and Bacteria observed in complete-genome analysis, and should prompt a reconsideration of current views on the origin of eukaryotes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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