General Patterns of Diversity in Major Marine Microeukaryote Lineages

Pernice, Massimo C.; Logares, Ramiro; Guillou, Laure; Massana, Ramon
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Microeukaryotes have vital roles for the functioning of marine ecosystems, but still some general characteristics of their current diversity and phylogeny remain unclear. Here we investigated both aspects in major oceanic microeukaryote lineages using 18S rDNA (V4–V5 hypervariable regions) sequences from public databases that derive from various marine environmental surveys. A very carefully and manually curated dataset of 8291 Sanger sequences was generated and subsequently split into 65 taxonomic groups (roughly to Class level based on KeyDNATools) prior to downstream analyses. First, we calculated genetic distances and clustered sequences into Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) using different distance cut-off levels. We found that most taxonomic groups had a maximum pairwise genetic distance of 0.25. Second, we used phylogenetic trees to study general evolutionary patterns. These trees confirmed our taxonomic classification and served to run Lineage Through Time (LTT) plots. LTT results indicated different cladogenesis dynamics across groups, with some displaying an early diversification and others a more recent one. Overall, our study provides an improved description of the microeukaryote diversity in the oceans in terms of genetic differentiation within groups as well as in the general phylogenetic structure. These results will be important to interpret the large amount of sequence data that is currently generated by High Throughput Sequencing technologies.


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