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Data from: Non-photosynthetic predators are sister to red algae

Cite this dataset

Gawryluk, Ryan M. R. et al. (2019). Data from: Non-photosynthetic predators are sister to red algae [Dataset]. Dryad.


Rhodophyta (red algae) is one of three lineages of Archaeplastida, a supergroup that is united by the primary endosymbiotic origin of plastids in eukaryotes. Red algae are a diverse and species-rich group, members of which are typically photoautotrophic, but are united by a number of highly derived characteristics: they have relatively small intron-poor genomes, reduced metabolism and lack cytoskeletal structures that are associated with motility, flagella and centrioles. This suggests that marked gene loss occurred around their origin; however, this is difficult to reconstruct because they differ so much from the other archaeplastid lineages, and the relationships between these lineages are unclear. Here we describe the novel eukaryotic phylum Rhodelphidia and, using phylogenomics, demonstrate that it is a closely related sister to red algae. However, the characteristics of the two Rhodelphis species described here are nearly opposite to those that define red algae: they are non-photosynthetic, flagellate predators with gene-rich genomes, along with a relic genome-lacking primary plastid that probably participates in haem synthesis. Overall, these findings alter our views of the origins of Rhodophyta, and Archaeplastida evolution as a whole, as they indicate that mixotrophic feeding—that is, a combination of predation and phototrophy—persisted well into the evolution of the group.

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