The pab1 gene of the basidiomycete Coprinus cinereus encodes PABA synthase, necessary for para-aminobenzoic acid production. The C. cinereus protein is bifunctional with an N-terminal glutamine amidotransferase domain and a C-terminal chorismate amination domain. In most bacteria, these two functions are encoded in separate genes (e.g., pabA and pabB of E. coli). Fused PABA synthases have so far been detected in actinomycetes, Plasmodium falciparum, fungi and Arabidopsis thaliana. Phylogenetic analysis shows that the fused PAB sequences form a tight group that also includes uncharacterized PabB homologues from several bacteria. Unfused bacterial PabA proteins group with the glutamine amidotransferase subunits of bacterial anthranilate synthases, independent of organismal systematics, indicating a complex and perhaps independent evolutionary origin. In contrast, unfused PabB group and fused PabA/B proteins form a monophyletic group on a branch separate from the chorismate amination subunits of anthranilate synthases, probably reflecting a need for recognition of different positions in the common substrate chorismate.