Modern taxonomy of yeasts is mainly based on phylogenetic analysis of conserved DNA and protein sequences. By far the most frequently used sequences are those of the repeats of the chromosomal rDNA array. It is generally accepted that the rDNA repeats of a genome have identical sequences due to the phenomenon of sequence homogenisation and can thus be used for identification and barcoding of species. Here we show that the rDNA arrays of the type strains of Metschnikowia andauensis and M. fructicola are not homogenised. Both have arrays consisting of diverse repeats that differ from each other in the D1/D2 domains by up to 18 and 25 substitutions. The variable sites are concentrated in two regions that correspond to back-folding stretches of hairpin loops in the predicted secondary structure of the RNA molecules. The substitutions do not alter significantly the overall hairpin-loop structure due to wobble base pairing at sites of C-T transitions and compensatory mutations in the complementary strand of the hairpin stem. The phylogenetic and network analyses of the cloned sequences revealed that the repeats had not evolved in a vertical tree-like way but reticulation might have shaped the rDNA arrays of both strains. The neighbour-net analysis of all cloned sequences of the type strains and the database sequences of different strains further showed that these species share a continuous pool of diverse repeats that appear to evolve by reticulate evolution.
Sipiczki, M., Pfliegler, W. P., & Holb, I. J. (2013). Metschnikowia Species Share a Pool of Diverse rRNA Genes Differing in Regions That Determine Hairpin-Loop Structures and Evolve by Reticulation. PLoS ONE, 8(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067384