Burki F, Okamoto N, Pombert JF, Keeling PJ
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279 (1736) 2246-2254 [2012-06-07; online 2012-02-01]
An important missing piece in the puzzle of how plastids spread across the eukaryotic tree of life is a robust evolutionary framework for the host lineages. Four assemblages are known to harbour plastids derived from red algae and, according to the controversial chromalveolate hypothesis, these all share a common ancestry. Phylogenomic analyses have consistently shown that stramenopiles and alveolates are closely related, but haptophytes and cryptophytes remain contentious; they have been proposed to branch together with several heterotrophic groups in the newly erected Hacrobia. Here, we tested this question by producing a large expressed sequence tag dataset for the katablepharid Roombia truncata, one of the last hacrobian lineages for which genome-level data are unavailable, and combined this dataset with the recently completed genome of the cryptophyte Guillardia theta to build an alignment composed of 258 genes. Our analyses strongly support haptophytes as sister to the SAR group, possibly together with telonemids and centrohelids. We also confirmed the common origin of katablepharids and cryptophytes, but these lineages were not related to other hacrobians; instead, they branch with plants. Our study resolves the evolutionary position of haptophytes, an ecologically critical component of the oceans, and proposes a new hypothesis for the origin of cryptophytes.