Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Ciliates are a diverse assemblage of eukaryotes that have been the source of many discoveries including self-splicing RNAs, telomeres and trans-splicing. While analyses of ciliate morphology have given rise to robust hypotheses on relatively shallow level relationships, the deeper evolutionary history of ciliates is largely unknown. This is in part because studies to date have focused on only a single locus, small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSU-rDNA). In the present study, we use a taxon-rich strategy based on multiple loci from GenBank and recently completed transcriptomes to assess deep phylogenetic relationships among ciliates. Our phylogenomic data set includes up to 537 taxa, all of which have been sampled for SSU-rDNA and a subset of which have LSU-rDNA and up to 7 protein-coding sequences. Analyses of these data support the bifurcation of ciliates as suggested by SSU-rDNA, with one major clade defined by having somatic macronuclei that divide with intranuclear microtubules (Intramacronucleata) and the other clade containing lineages that either divide their macronuclei with microtubules external to the macronucleus or are unable to divide their macronuclei (Postciliodesmatophora). These multigene phylogenies provide a robust framework for interpreting the evolution of innovations across the ciliate tree of life.
Ciliophora, Intramacronucleata, Macronucleus, Phylogenomic analysis, Postciliodesmatophora
Gao, Feng and Katz, Laura A., "Phylogenomic Analyses Support the Bifurcation of Ciliates into Two Major Clades that Differ in Properties of Nuclear Division" (2014). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.