Early origin of foraminifera suggested by SSU rRNA gene sequences

Mol Biol Evol. 1996 Mar;13(3):445-50. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a025605.


Foraminifera are one of the largest groups of unicellular eukaryotes with probably the best known fossil record. However, the origin of foraminifera and their phylogenetic relationships with other eukaryotes are not well established. In particular, two recent reports, based on ribosomal RNA gene sequences, have reached strikingly different conclusions about foraminifera's evolutionary position within eukaryotes. Here, we present the complete small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene sequences of three species of foraminifera. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences indicates that they branch very deeply in the eukaryotic evolutionary tree: later than those of the amitochondrial Archezoa, but earlier than those of the Euglenozoa and other mitochondria-bearing phyla. Foraminifera are clearly among the earliest eukaryotes with mitochondria, but because of the peculiar nature of their SSU genes we cannot be certain that they diverged first, as our data suggest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics*
  • Eukaryota / classification
  • Eukaryota / genetics*
  • Fossils
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal / genetics*


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Protozoan
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Ribosomal

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X86093
  • GENBANK/X86094
  • GENBANK/X86095