Molecular Phylogeny of Conjugating Green Algae (Zygnemophyceae, Streptophyta) Inferred from SSU rDNA Sequence Comparisons
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Nuclear-encoded SSU rDNA sequences have been obtained from 64 strains of conjugating green algae (Zygnemophyceae, Streptophyta, Viridiplantae). Molecular phylogenetic analyses of 90 SSU rDNA sequences of Viridiplantae (inciuding 78 from the Zygnemophyceae) were performed using complex evolutionary models and maximum likelihood, distance, and maximum parsimony methods. The significance of the results was tested by bootstrap analyses, deletion of long-branch taxa, relative rate tests, and Kishino–Hasegawa tests with user-defined trees. All results support the monophyly of the class Zygnemophyceae and of the order Desmidiales. The second order, Zygnematales, forms a series of early-branching clades in paraphyletic succession, with the two traditional families Mesotaeniaceae and Zygnemataceae not recovered as lineages. Instead, a long-branch Spirogyra/Sirogonium clade and the later-diverging Netrium and Roya clades represent independent clades. Within the order Desmidiales, the families Gonatozygaceae and Closteriaceae are monophyletic, whereas the Peniaceae (represented only by Penium margaritaceum) and the Desmidiaceae represent a single weakly supported lineage. Within the Desmidiaceae short internal branches and varying rates of sequence evolution among taxa reduce the phylogenetic resolution significantly. The SSU rDNA-based phylogeny is largely congruent with a published analysis of the rbcL phylogeny of the Zygnemophyceae (McCourt et al. 2000) and is also in general agreement with classification schemes based on cell wall ultrastructure. The extended taxon sampling at the subgenus level provides solid evidence that many genera in the Zygnemophyceae are not monophyletic and that the genus concept in the group needs to be revised.
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