Untangling the early diversification of eukaryotes: a phylogenomic study of the evolutionary origins of Centrohelida, Haptophyta and Cryptista. Proc. R. Soc. B. 283: 20152802.
Assembling the global eukaryotic tree of life has long been a major effort of Biology. In recent years, pushed by the new availability of genome-scale data for microbial eukaryotes, it has become possible to revisit many evolution- ary enigmas. However, some of the most ancient nodes, which are essential for inferring a stable tree, have remained highly controversial. Among other reasons, the lack of adequate genomic datasets for key taxa has prevented the robust reconstruction of early diversification events. In this context, the cen- trohelid heliozoans are particularly relevant for reconstructing the tree of eukaryotes because they represent one of the last substantial groups that was missing large and diverse genomic data. Here, we filled this gap by sequencing high-quality transcriptomes for four centrohelid lineages, each correspond- ing to a different family. Combining these new data with a broad eukaryotic sampling, we produced a gene-rich taxon-rich phylogenomic dataset that enabled us to refine the structure of the tree. Specifically, we show that (i) cen- trohelids relate to haptophytes, confirming Haptista; (ii) Haptista relates to SAR; (iii) Cryptista share strong affinity with Archaeplastida; and (iv) Haptista þ SAR is sister to Cryptista þ Archaeplastida. The implications of this topology are discussed in the broader context of plastid evolution.
A great pop ScienceNews article by Susan Milius on shaking the branches of the tree of life, featuring a short but sweet quotation from yours truly ;-) Article here
A great essay on why protists are cool, by Cyrus Martin in Current Biology:
Biology's dark matter. 2015. 25: R301–R327. Current Biology.
By Martin Kolisko, Vittorio Boscaro, Fabien Burki, Denis H. Lynn, and Patrick J. Keeling
The Marine Microbial Eukaryote Transcriptome Sequencing Project (MMETSP): Illuminating the Functional Diversity of Eukaryotic Life in the Oceans through Transcriptome Sequencing. PLOS Biology. 12(6): e1001889
The Eukaryotic Tree of Life from a Global Phylogenomic Perspective. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2014. 6:a016147
Molecular phylogenetics has revolutionized our knowledge of the eukaryotic tree of life. With the advent of genomics, a new discipline of phylogenetics has emerged: phylogenomics. This method uses large alignments of tens to hundreds of genes to reconstruct evolutionary histories. This approach has led to the resolution of ancient and contentious relationships, notably between the building blocks of the tree (the supergroups), and allowed to place in the tree enigmatic yet important protist lineages for understanding eukaryote evolution. In this review, I discuss the pros and cons of phylogenomics and review the eukaryotic supergroups in light of earlier work that laid the foundation for the current view of the tree, including the position of the root. I conclude by presenting a picture of eukaryote evolution, summarising the most recent progress in assembling the global tree.
A short story about Rhizaria, one of the main groups of eukaryotes that has remained poorly studied. This primer also contains an introduction describing the imbalance of genome sequencing versus diversity in eukaryotes.
Endosymbiotic gene transfer in tertiary plastid-containing dinoflagellates. Eukaryot. Cell. 2014. 13(2):246-255.
Plastid establishment involves the transfer of endosymbiotic genes to the host nucleus, a process known as endosymbiotic gene transfer (EGT). Large amounts of EGT have been shown in several photosynthetic lineages but also in present-day plastid-lacking organisms, supporting the notion that endosymbiotic genes leave a substantial genetic footprint in the host nucleus. Yet the extent of this genetic relocation remains debated, largely because the long period that has passed since most plastids originated has erased many of the clues to how this process unfolded. Among the dinoflagellates, however, the ancestral peridinin-containing plastid has been replaced by tertiary plastids on several more recent occasions, giving us a less ancient window to examine plastid origins. In this study, we evaluated the endosymbiotic contribution to the host genome in two dinoflagellate lineages with tertiary plastids. We generated the first nuclear transcriptome data sets for the “dinotoms,” which harbor diatom-derived plastids, and analyzed these data in combination with the available transcriptomes for kareniaceans, which harbor haptophyte-derived plastids. We found low level of detectable EGT in both dinoflagellate lineages, with only 9 genes and 90 genes of possible tertiary endosymbiotic origin in dinotoms and kareniaceans, respectively, suggesting that tertiary endosymbioses did not heavily impact the host dinoflagellate genomes.
Dispatch by Mark van der Giezen on our recent paper in Current Biology (Burki et al. 2013. 23:1541-1547): Phylogenomics of the intracellular parasite Mikrocytos mackini reveals evidence for a mitosome in Rhizaria.