Assessing the microsporidia-fungi relationship: Combined phylogenetic analysis of eight genes

Gene
Erin E Gill, Naomi M Fast

Abstract

Microsporidia are unicellular eukaryotes that are obligate parasites of a variety of animals. For many years, microsporidia were thought to be an early offshoot of the eukaryotic evolutionary tree, and early phylogenetic work supported this hypothesis. More recent analyses have consistently placed microsporidia far from the base of the eukaryotic tree and indicate a possible fungal relationship, but the nature of the microsporidian-fungal relationship has yet to be determined. The concatenated dataset employed in this analysis consists of eight genes and contains sequence data from representatives of four fungal phyla. A consistent branching pattern was recovered among four different phylogenetic methods. These trees place microsporidia as a sister to a combined ascomycete+basidiomycete clade. AU tests determined that this branching pattern is the most likely, but failed to reject two alternatives.

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