Phylogeny and megasystematics of phagotrophic heterokonts (kingdom Chromista)

Journal of Molecular Evolution
Thomas Cavalier-Smith, Ema E Chao

Abstract

Heterokonts are evolutionarily important as the most nutritionally diverse eukaryote supergroup and the most species-rich branch of the eukaryotic kingdom Chromista. Ancestrally photosynthetic/phagotrophic algae (mixotrophs), they include several ecologically important purely heterotrophic lineages, all grossly understudied phylogenetically and of uncertain relationships. We sequenced 18S rRNA genes from 14 phagotrophic non-photosynthetic heterokonts and a probable Ochromonas, performed phylogenetic analysis of 210-430 Heterokonta, and revised higher classification of Heterokonta and its three phyla: the predominantly photosynthetic Ochrophyta; the non-photosynthetic Pseudofungi; and Bigyra (now comprising subphyla Opalozoa, Bicoecia, Sagenista). The deepest heterokont divergence is apparently between Bigyra, as revised here, and Ochrophyta/Pseudofungi. We found a third universal heterokont signature sequence, and deduce three independent losses of ciliary hairs, several of 1-2 cilia, 10 of photosynthesis, but perhaps only two plastid losses. In Ochrophyta, heterotrophic Oikomonas is sister to the photosynthetic Chrysamoeba, whilst the abundant freshwater predator Spumella is biphyletic; neither clade is specifically related to...Continue Reading

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