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Eukaryot Cell. 2004 Oct;3(5):1169-75.

Gene replacement of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase supports the hypothesis of a single photosynthetic ancestor of chromalveolates.

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, 3529-6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.


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.

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