The genes encoding α- and β-tubulins have been widely sampled in most major fungal phyla and they are useful tools for fungal phylogeny. Here, we report the first isolation of α-tubulin sequences from arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). In parallel, AMF β-tubulins were sampled and analysed to identify the presence of paralogs of this gene. The AMF α-tubulin amino acid phylogeny was congruent with the results previously reported for AMF β-tubulins and showed that AMF tubulins group together at a basal position in the fungal clade and showed high sequence similarities with members of the Chytridiomycota. This is in contrast with phylogenies for other regions of the AMF genome. The amount and nature of substitutions are consistent with an ancient divergence of both orthologs and paralogs of AMF tubulins. At the amino acid level, however, AMF tubulins have hardly evolved from those of the chytrids. This is remarkable given that these two groups are ancient and the monophyletic Glomeromycota probably diverged from basal fungal ancestors at least 500 million years ago. The specific primers we designed for the AMF tubulins, together with the high molecular variation we found among the AMF species we analysed, make AMF tubulin sequences potentially useful for AMF identification purposes. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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