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J Mol Evol. 1997 Aug;45(2):168-77.

Ribosomal DNA ITS-1 and ITS-2 sequence comparisons as a tool for predicting genetic relatedness.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Biochemistry, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


The determination of the secondary structure of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions separating nuclear ribosomal RNA genes of Chlorophytes has improved the fidelity of alignment of nuclear ribosomal ITS sequences from related organisms. Application of this information to sequences from green algae and plants suggested that a subset of the ITS-2 positions is relatively conserved. Organisms that can mate are identical at all of these 116 positions, or differ by at most, one nucleotide change. Here we sequenced and compared the ITS-1 and ITS-2 of 40 green flagellates in search of the nearest relative to Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. The analysis clearly revealed one unique candidate, C. incerta. Several ancillary benefits of the analysis included the identification of mislabelled cultures, the resolution of confusion concerning C. smithii, the discovery of misidentified sequences in GenBank derived from a green algal contaminant, and an overview of evolutionary relationships among the Volvocales, which is congruent with that derived from rDNA gene sequence comparisons but improves upon its resolution. The study further delineates the taxonomic level at which ITS sequences, in comparison to ribosomal gene sequences, are most useful in systematic and other studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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