Genome-powered classification of microbial eukaryotes: focus on coral algal symbionts

Trends Microbiol. 2022 Sep;30(9):831-840. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2022.02.001. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


Modern microbial taxonomy generally relies on the use of single marker genes or sets of concatenated genes to generate a framework for the delineation and classification of organisms at different taxonomic levels. However, given that DNA is the 'blueprint of life', and hence the ultimate arbiter of taxonomy, classification systems should attempt to use as much of the blueprint as possible to capture a comprehensive phylogenetic signal. Recent analysis of whole-genome sequences from coral reef symbionts (dinoflagellates of the family Symbiodiniaceae) and other microalgal groups has uncovered extensive divergence not recognised by current algal taxonomic approaches. In the era of 'sequence everything', we argue that whole-genome data are pivotal to guide informed taxonomic inference, particularly for microbial eukaryotes.

Keywords: Symbiodiniaceae; algal genomics; coral symbionts; dinoflagellates; taxonomy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa* / genetics
  • Coral Reefs
  • Dinoflagellida* / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Symbiosis