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1.  A clade uniting the green algae Mesostigma viride and Chlorokybus atmophyticus represents the deepest branch of the Streptophyta in chloroplast genome-based phylogenies 
BMC Biology  2007;5:2.
The Viridiplantae comprise two major phyla: the Streptophyta, containing the charophycean green algae and all land plants, and the Chlorophyta, containing the remaining green algae. Despite recent progress in unravelling phylogenetic relationships among major green plant lineages, problematic nodes still remain in the green tree of life. One of the major issues concerns the scaly biflagellate Mesostigma viride, which is either regarded as representing the earliest divergence of the Streptophyta or a separate lineage that diverged before the Chlorophyta and Streptophyta. Phylogenies based on chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes support the latter view. Because some green plant lineages are not represented in these phylogenies, sparse taxon sampling has been suspected to yield misleading topologies. Here, we describe the complete chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequence of the early-diverging charophycean alga Chlorokybus atmophyticus and present chloroplast genome-based phylogenies with an expanded taxon sampling.
The 152,254 bp Chlorokybus cpDNA closely resembles its Mesostigma homologue at the gene content and gene order levels. Using various methods of phylogenetic inference, we analyzed amino acid and nucleotide data sets that were derived from 45 protein-coding genes common to the cpDNAs of 37 green algal/land plant taxa and eight non-green algae. Unexpectedly, all best trees recovered a robust clade uniting Chlorokybus and Mesostigma. In protein trees, this clade was sister to all streptophytes and chlorophytes and this placement received moderate support. In contrast, gene trees provided unequivocal support to the notion that the Mesostigma + Chlorokybus clade represents the earliest-diverging branch of the Streptophyta. Independent analyses of structural data (gene content and/or gene order) and of subsets of amino acid data progressively enriched in slow-evolving sites led us to conclude that the latter topology reflects the true organismal relationships.
In disclosing a sister relationship between the Mesostigmatales and Chlorokybales, our study resolves the long-standing debate about the nature of the unicellular flagellated ancestors of land plants and alters significantly our concepts regarding the evolution of streptophyte algae. Moreover, in predicting a richer chloroplast gene repertoire than previously inferred for the common ancestor of all streptophytes, our study has contributed to a better understanding of chloroplast genome evolution in the Viridiplantae.
PMCID: PMC1781420  PMID: 17222354
2.  The complete chloroplast DNA sequence of the green alga Oltmannsiellopsis viridis reveals a distinctive quadripartite architecture in the chloroplast genome of early diverging ulvophytes 
BMC Biology  2006;4:3.
The phylum Chlorophyta contains the majority of the green algae and is divided into four classes. The basal position of the Prasinophyceae has been well documented, but the divergence order of the Ulvophyceae, Trebouxiophyceae and Chlorophyceae is currently debated. The four complete chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences presently available for representatives of these classes have revealed extensive variability in overall structure, gene content, intron composition and gene order. The chloroplast genome of Pseudendoclonium (Ulvophyceae), in particular, is characterized by an atypical quadripartite architecture that deviates from the ancestral type by a large inverted repeat (IR) featuring an inverted rRNA operon and a small single-copy (SSC) region containing 14 genes normally found in the large single-copy (LSC) region. To gain insights into the nature of the events that led to the reorganization of the chloroplast genome in the Ulvophyceae, we have determined the complete cpDNA sequence of Oltmannsiellopsis viridis, a representative of a distinct, early diverging lineage.
The 151,933 bp IR-containing genome of Oltmannsiellopsis differs considerably from Pseudendoclonium and other chlorophyte cpDNAs in intron content and gene order, but shares close similarities with its ulvophyte homologue at the levels of quadripartite architecture, gene content and gene density. Oltmannsiellopsis cpDNA encodes 105 genes, contains five group I introns, and features many short dispersed repeats. As in Pseudendoclonium cpDNA, the rRNA genes in the IR are transcribed toward the single copy region featuring the genes typically found in the ancestral LSC region, and the opposite single copy region harbours genes characteristic of both the ancestral SSC and LSC regions. The 52 genes that were transferred from the ancestral LSC to SSC region include 12 of those observed in Pseudendoclonium cpDNA. Surprisingly, the overall gene organization of Oltmannsiellopsis cpDNA more closely resembles that of Chlorella (Trebouxiophyceae) cpDNA.
The chloroplast genome of the last common ancestor of Oltmannsiellopsis and Pseudendoclonium contained a minimum of 108 genes, carried only a few group I introns, and featured a distinctive quadripartite architecture. Numerous changes were experienced by the chloroplast genome in the lineages leading to Oltmannsiellopsis and Pseudendoclonium. Our comparative analyses of chlorophyte cpDNAs support the notion that the Ulvophyceae is sister to the Chlorophyceae.
PMCID: PMC1402334  PMID: 16472375
3.  The complete chloroplast DNA sequences of the charophycean green algae Staurastrum and Zygnema reveal that the chloroplast genome underwent extensive changes during the evolution of the Zygnematales 
BMC Biology  2005;3:22.
The Streptophyta comprise all land plants and six monophyletic groups of charophycean green algae. Phylogenetic analyses of four genes from three cellular compartments support the following branching order for these algal lineages: Mesostigmatales, Chlorokybales, Klebsormidiales, Zygnematales, Coleochaetales and Charales, with the last lineage being sister to land plants. Comparative analyses of the Mesostigma viride (Mesostigmatales) and land plant chloroplast genome sequences revealed that this genome experienced many gene losses, intron insertions and gene rearrangements during the evolution of charophyceans. On the other hand, the chloroplast genome of Chaetosphaeridium globosum (Coleochaetales) is highly similar to its land plant counterparts in terms of gene content, intron composition and gene order, indicating that most of the features characteristic of land plant chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) were acquired from charophycean green algae. To gain further insight into when the highly conservative pattern displayed by land plant cpDNAs originated in the Streptophyta, we have determined the cpDNA sequences of the distantly related zygnematalean algae Staurastrum punctulatum and Zygnema circumcarinatum.
The 157,089 bp Staurastrum and 165,372 bp Zygnema cpDNAs encode 121 and 125 genes, respectively. Although both cpDNAs lack an rRNA-encoding inverted repeat (IR), they are substantially larger than Chaetosphaeridium and land plant cpDNAs. This increased size is explained by the expansion of intergenic spacers and introns. The Staurastrum and Zygnema genomes differ extensively from one another and from their streptophyte counterparts at the level of gene order, with the Staurastrum genome more closely resembling its land plant counterparts than does Zygnema cpDNA. Many intergenic regions in Zygnema cpDNA harbor tandem repeats. The introns in both Staurastrum (8 introns) and Zygnema (13 introns) cpDNAs represent subsets of those found in land plant cpDNAs. They represent 16 distinct insertion sites, only five of which are shared by the two zygnematalean genomes. Three of these insertions sites have not been identified in Chaetosphaeridium cpDNA.
The chloroplast genome experienced substantial changes in overall structure, gene order, and intron content during the evolution of the Zygnematales. Most of the features considered earlier as typical of land plant cpDNAs probably originated before the emergence of the Zygnematales and Coleochaetales.
PMCID: PMC1277820  PMID: 16236178

Results 1-3 (3)