Filling gaps in the microsporidian tree: rDNA phylogeny of Chytridiopsis typographi (Microsporidia: Chytridiopsida)
Microsporidia are intracellular eukaryotic parasites of animals, characterized by unusual morphological and genetic features. They can be divided in three main groups, the classical microsporidians presenting all the features of the phylum and two putative primitive groups, the chytridiopsids and metchnikovellids. Microsporidia originated from microsporidia-like organisms belonging to a lineage of chytrid-like endoparasites basal or sister to the Fungi. Genetic and genomic data are available for all members, except chytridiopsids. Herein, we filled this gap by obtaining the rDNA sequence (SSU-ITS-partial LSU) of Chytridiopsis typographi (Chytridiopsida), a parasite of bark beetles. Our rDNA molecular phylogenies indicate that Chytridiopsis branches earlier than metchnikovellids, commonly thought ancestral, forming the more basal lineage of the Microsporidia. Furthermore, our structural analyses showed that only classical microsporidians present 16S-like SSU rRNA and 5.8S/LSU rRNA gene fusion, whereas the standard eukaryote rRNA gene structure, although slightly reduced, is still preserved in the primitive microsporidians, including 18S-like SSU rRNA with conserved core helices, and ITS2-like separating 5.8S from LSU. Overall, our results are consistent with the scenario of an evolution from microsporidia-like rozellids to microsporidians, however suggesting for metchnikovellids a derived position, probably related to marine transition and adaptation to hyperparasitism. The genetic and genomic data of additional members of Chytridiopsida and Rozellomycota will be of great value, not only to resolve phylogenetic relationships but also to improve our understanding of the evolution of these fascinating organisms.
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