The origin of plastids was a major evolutionary event that paved the way for an astonishing diversification of photosynthetic eukaryotes. Plastids originated by endosymbiosis between a heterotrophic eukaryotic host and cyanobacteria, presumably in a common ancestor of the primary photosynthetic eukaryotes (Archaeplastida). A single origin of primary plastids is well supported by plastid evidence but not by nuclear phylogenomic analyses, which have consistently failed to recover the monophyly of Archaeplastida hosts. Importantly, plastid monophyly and nonmonophyletic hosts could be explained under scenarios of independent or serial eukaryote-to-eukaryote endosymbioses. Here, we assessed the strength of the signal for the monophyly of Archaeplastida hosts in four available phylogenomic data sets. The effect of phylogenetic methodology, data quality, alignment trimming strategy, gene and taxon sampling, and the presence of outlier genes were investigated. Our analyses revealed a lack of support for host monophyly in the shorter individual data sets. However, when analyzed together under rigorous data curation and complex mixture models, the combined nuclear data sets supported the monophyly of primary photosynthetic eukaryotes (Archaeplastida) and recovered a putative association with plastid-lacking Picozoa. This study represents an important step toward better understanding deep eukaryotic evolution and the origin of plastids.
All analyses are based on publicly available data.
Science for Life Laboratory
Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad, Gobierno de España, Award: IJCI-2016-29566