The eukaryotic supergroup Opisthokonta includes animals (Metazoa), fungi, and choanoflagellates, as well as the lesser known unicellular lineages Nucleariidae, Fonticula alba, Ichthyosporea, Filasterea and Corallochytrium limacisporum. Whereas the evolutionary positions of the well-known opisthokonts are mostly resolved, the phylogenetic relationships among the more obscure lineages are not. Within the Unikonta (Opisthokonta and Amoebozoa), it has not been determined whether the Apusozoa (apusomonads and ancyromonads) or the Amoebozoa form the sister group to opisthokonts, nor to which side of the hypothesized unikont/bikont divide the Apusozoa belong. Aiming at elucidating the evolutionary tree of the unikonts, we have assembled a dataset with a large sampling of both organisms and genes, including representatives from all known opisthokont lineages. In addition, we include new molecular data from an additional ichthyosporean (Creolimax fragrantissima) and choanoflagellate (Codosiga botrytis). Our analyses show the Apusozoa as a paraphyletic assemblage within the unikonts, with the Apusomonadida forming a sister group to the opisthokonts. Within the Holozoa, the Ichthyosporea diverge first, followed by C. limacisporum, the Filasterea, the Choanoflagellata, and the Metazoa. With our data-enriched tree, it is possible to pinpoint the origin and evolution of morphological characters. As an example, we discuss the evolution of the unikont kinetid.
- Eukaryotic phylogeny