On the monophyly of chromalveolates using a six-protein phylogeny of eukaryotes

James T Harper, Esmé Waanders, Patrick J Keeling

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A global phylogeny of major eukaryotic lineages is a significant and ongoing challenge to molecular phylogenetics. Currently, there are five hypothesized major lineages or 'supergroups' of eukaryotes. One of these, the chromalveolates, represents a large fraction of protist and algal diversity. The chromalveolate hypothesis was originally based on similarities between the photosynthetic organelles (plastids) found in many of its members and has been supported by analyses of plastid-related genes. However, since plastids can move between eukaryotic lineages, it is important to provide additional support from data generated from the nuclear-cytosolic host lineage. Genes coding for six different cytosolic proteins from a variety of chromalveolates (yielding 68 new gene sequences) have been characterized so that multiple gene analyses, including all six major lineages of chromalveolates, could be compared and concatenated with data representing all five hypothesized supergroups. Overall support for much of the phylogenies is decreased over previous analyses that concatenated fewer genes for fewer taxa. Nevertheless, four of the six chromalveolate lineages (apicomplexans, ciliates, dinoflagellates and heterokonts) consistently form a monophyletic assemblage, whereas the remaining two (cryptomonads and haptophytes) form a weakly supported group. Whereas these results are consistent with the monophyly of chromalveolates inferred from plastid data, testing this hypothesis is going to require a substantial increase in data from a wide variety of organisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-96
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of systemic and evolutionary microbiology
Issue numberPt 1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


  • Animals
  • Apicomplexa/genetics
  • Ciliophora/genetics
  • Cryptophyta/genetics
  • Cytosol/metabolism
  • Dinoflagellida/genetics
  • Eukaryota/genetics
  • Eukaryotic Cells
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Plastids/genetics
  • Proteins/genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


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