A tree of life based on ninety-eight expressed genes conserved across diverse eukaryotic species

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Rapid advances in DNA sequencing technologies have resulted in the accumulation of large data sets in the public domain, facilitating comparative studies to provide novel insights into the evolution of life. Phylogenetic studies across the eukaryotic taxa have been reported but on the basis of a limited number of genes. Here we present a genome-wide analysis across different plant, fungal, protist, and animal species, with reference to the 36,002 expressed genes of the rice genome. Our analysis revealed 9831 genes unique to rice and 98 genes conserved across all 49 eukaryotic species analysed. The 98 genes conserved across diverse eukaryotes mostly exhibited binding and catalytic activities and shared common sequence motifs; and hence appeared to have a common origin. The 98 conserved genes belonged to 22 functional gene families including 26S protease, actin, ADP–ribosylation factor, ATP synthase, casein kinase, DEAD-box protein, DnaK, elongation factor 2, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate, phosphatase 2A, ras-related protein, Ser/Thr protein phosphatase family protein, tubulin, ubiquitin and others. The consensus Bayesian eukaryotic tree of life developed in this study demonstrated widely separated clades of plants, fungi, and animals. Musa acuminata provided an evolutionary link between monocotyledons and dicotyledons, and Salpingoeca rosetta provided an evolutionary link between fungi and animals, which indicating that protozoan species are close relatives of fungi and animals. The divergence times for 1176 species pairs were estimated accurately by integrating fossil information with synonymous substitution rates in the comprehensive set of 98 genes. The present study provides valuable insight into the evolution of eukaryotes.




Jayaswal, P. K., Dogra, V., Shanker, A., Sharma, T. R., & Singh, N. K. (2017). A tree of life based on ninety-eight expressed genes conserved across diverse eukaryotic species. PLoS ONE, 12(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184276

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