Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 463–474 | Cite as

A Three-Gene Dinoflagellate Phylogeny Suggests Monophyly of Prorocentrales and a Basal Position for Amphidinium and Heterocapsa



Many outstanding questions about dinoflagellate evolution can potentially be resolved by establishing a robust phylogeny. To do this, we generated a data set of mitochondrial cytochrome b (cob) and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 (cox1) from a broad range of dinoflagellates. Maximum likelihood, maximum parsimony, and Bayesian methods were used to infer phylogenies from these genes separately and as a concatenated alignment with and without small subunit (SSU) rDNA sequences. These trees were largely congruent in topology with previously published phylogenies but revealed several unexpected results. Prorocentrum benthic and planktonic species previously placed in different clusters formed a monophyletic group in all trees, suggesting that the Prorocentrales is a monophyletic group. More strikingly, our analyses placed Amphidinium and Heterocapsa as early splits among dinoflagellates that diverged after the emergence of O. marina. This affiliation received strong bootstrap support, but these lineages exhibited relatively long branches. The approximately unbiased (AU-) test was used to assess this result using a three-gene (cob + cox1 + SSU rDNA) DNA data set and the inferred tree. This analysis showed that forcing Amphidinium or Heterocapsa to relatively more derived positions in the phylogeny resulted in significantly lower likelihood scores, consistent with the phylogenies. The position of these lineages needs to be further verified.


cob coxCytochrome b Cytochrome c oxidase I Dinoflagellates Phylogeny rDNA 



mitochondrial cytochrome b


gene coding for COB


mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1


gene coding for COX1



We would like to thank D. M. Anderson (WHOI), P. Tester (National Ocean Services), D. K. Stoecker (Horn Point Environmental Laboratory), and E. J. Buskey (University of Texas) for providing cultures of Alexandrium tamarense, Pseudopfiesteria shumwayae, Karlodinium veneficum, and Noctiluca scintillans, respectively. Brett Branco and John Bean collected water samples from Mirror Lake, Storrs campus of University of Connecticut, from which Ceratium sp. was isolated. W. Litaker and P. Tester provided SSU rDNA sequences for strain CCMP1828 and CCMP1835 and constructive discussion on Prorocentrum phylogeny. This research was supported by NSF Grant DEB 0344186 (to S.L. and H.Z.) and NSF Grants DEB 0107754 and MCB 0236631 (to D.B.).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Huan Zhang
    • 1
  • Debashish Bhattacharya
    • 2
  • Senjie Lin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine SciencesUniversity of ConnecticutGrotonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological Sciences and Roy J. Carver Center for Comparative GenomicsUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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