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Biol Lett. 2010 June 23; 6(3): 342–345.
Published online 2009 December 23. doi:  10.1098/rsbl.2009.0948
PMCID: PMC2880060

Kingdoms Protozoa and Chromista and the eozoan root of the eukaryotic tree


I discuss eukaryotic deep phylogeny and reclassify the basal eukaryotic kingdom Protozoa and derived kingdom Chromista in the light of multigene trees. I transfer the formerly protozoan Heliozoa and infrakingdoms Alveolata and Rhizaria into Chromista, which is sister to kingdom Plantae and arguably originated by synergistic double internal enslavement of green algal and red algal cells. I establish new subkingdoms (Harosa; Hacrobia) for the expanded Chromista. The protozoan phylum Euglenozoa differs immensely from other eukaryotes in its nuclear genome organization (trans-spliced multicistronic transcripts), mitochondrial DNA organization, cytochrome c-type biogenesis, cell structure and arguably primitive mitochondrial protein-import and nuclear DNA prereplication machineries. The bacteria-like absence of mitochondrial outer-membrane channel Tom40 and DNA replication origin-recognition complexes from trypanosomatid Euglenozoa roots the eukaryotic tree between Euglenozoa and all other eukaryotes (neokaryotes), or within Euglenozoa. Given their unique properties, I segregate Euglenozoa from infrakingdom Excavata (now comprising only phyla Percolozoa, Loukozoa, Metamonada), grouping infrakingdoms Euglenozoa and Excavata as the ancestral protozoan subkingdom Eozoa. I place phylum Apusozoa within the derived protozoan subkingdom Sarcomastigota. Clarifying early eukaryote evolution requires intensive study of properties distinguishing Euglenozoa from neokaryotes and Eozoa from neozoa (eukaryotes except Eozoa; ancestrally defined by haem lyase).

Keywords: Euglenozoa, cytochrome c-type biogenesis, Tom40, ORC evolution, Rhizaria, double secondary symbiogenesis

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