Strassert JFH, Jamy M, Mylnikov AP, Tikhonenkov DV, Burki F
Mol. Biol. Evol. 36 (4) 757-765 [2019-04-01; online 2019-01-23]
The resolution of the broad-scale tree of eukaryotes is constantly improving, but the evolutionary origin of several major groups remains unknown. Resolving the phylogenetic position of these "orphan" groups is important, especially those that originated early in evolution, because they represent missing evolutionary links between established groups. Telonemia is one such orphan taxon for which little is known. The group is composed of molecularly diverse biflagellated protists, often prevalent although not abundant in aquatic environments. Telonemia has been hypothesized to represent a deeply diverging eukaryotic phylum but no consensus exists as to where it is placed in the tree. Here, we established cultures and report the phylogenomic analyses of three new transcriptome data sets for divergent telonemid lineages. All our phylogenetic reconstructions, based on 248 genes and using site-heterogeneous mixture models, robustly resolve the evolutionary origin of Telonemia as sister to the Sar supergroup. This grouping remains well supported when as few as 60% of the genes are randomly subsampled, thus is not sensitive to the sets of genes used but requires a minimal alignment length to recover enough phylogenetic signal. Telonemia occupies a crucial position in the tree to examine the origin of Sar, one of the most lineage-rich eukaryote supergroups. We propose the moniker "TSAR" to accommodate this new mega-assemblage in the phylogeny of eukaryotes.