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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Sep;22(9):1772-82. Epub 2005 May 25.

Chlorophyll c-containing plastid relationships based on analyses of a multigene data set with all four chromalveolate lineages.

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Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, USA.


The chlorophyll c-containing algae comprise four major lineages: dinoflagellates, haptophytes, heterokonts, and cryptophytes. These four lineages have sometimes been grouped together based on their pigmentation, but cytological and rRNA data had suggested that they were not a monophyletic lineage. Some molecular data support monophyly of the plastids, while other plastid and host data suggest different relationships. It is uncontroversial that these groups have all acquired plastids from another eukaryote, probably from the red algal lineage, in a secondary endosymbiotic event, but the number and sequence of such event(s) remain controversial. Understanding chlorophyll c-containing plastid relationships is a first step towards determining the number of endosymbiotic events within the chromalveolates. We report here phylogenetic analyses using 10 plastid genes with representatives of all four chromalveolate lineages. This is the first organellar genome-scale analysis to include both haptophytes and dinoflagellates. Concatenated analyses support the monophyly of the chlorophyll c-containing plastids and suggest that cryptophyte plastids are the basal member of the chlorophyll c-containing plastid lineage. The gene psbA, which has at times been used for phylogenetic purposes, was found to differ from the other genes in its placement of the dinoflagellates and the haptophytes, and in its lack of support for monophyly of the green and red plastid lineages. Overall, the concatenated data are consistent with a single origin of chlorophyll c-containing plastids from red algae. However, these data cannot test several key hypothesis concerning chromalveolate host monophyly, and do not preclude the possibility of serial transfer of chlorophyll c-containing plastids among distantly related hosts.

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