Phylogenies from genetic and morphological characters do not support a revision of Gigasporaceae (Glomeromycota) into four families and five genera

  • Morton J
  • Msiska Z
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The family Gigasporaceae consisted of the two genera Gigaspora and Scutellospora when first erected. In a recent revision of this classification, Scutellospora was divided into three families and four genera based on two main lines of evidence: (1) phylogenetic patterns of coevolving small and large rRNA genes and (2) morphology of spore germination shields. The rRNA trees were assumed to accurately reflect species evolution, and shield characters were selected because they correlated with gene trees. These characters then were used selectively to support gene trees and validate the classification. To test this new classification, a phylogenetic tree was reconstructed from concatenated 25S rRNA and β-tubulin gene sequences using 35% of known species in Gigasporaceae. A tree also was reconstructed from 23 morphological characters represented in 71% of known species. Results from both datasets showed that the revised classification was untenable. The classification also failed to accurately represent sister group relationships amongst higher taxa. Only two clades were fully resolved and congruent among datasets: Gigaspora and Racocetra (a clade consisting of species with spores having one inner germinal wall). Other clades were unresolved, which was attributed in part to undersampling of species. Topology of the morphology-based phylogeny was incongruent with gene evolution. Five shield characters were reduced to three, of which two were phylogenetically uninformative because they were homoplastic. Therefore, most taxa erected in the new classification are rejected. The classification is revised to restore the family Gigasporaceae, within which are the three genera Gigaspora, Racocetra, and Scutellospora. This classification does not reflect strict topology of either gene or morphological evolution. Further revisions must await sampling of additional characters and taxa to better ascertain congruence between datasets and infer a more accurate phylogeny of this important group of fungi.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 25S rRNA gene
  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Classification
  • Nomeclature
  • Phylogeny
  • β-tubulin gene

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  • Joseph B. Morton

  • Zola Msiska

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