Monophyletic origins of the metazoa: an evolutionary link with fungi

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Science  16 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5106, pp. 340-342
DOI: 10.1126/science.8469985


A phylogenetic framework inferred from comparisons of small subunit ribosomal RNA sequences describes the evolutionary origin and early branching patterns of the kingdom Animalia. Maximum likelihood analyses show the animal lineage is monophyletic and includes choanoflagellates. Within the metazoan assemblage, the divergence of sponges is followed by the Ctenophora, the Cnidaria plus the placozoan Trichoplax adhaerens, and finally by an unresolved polychotomy of bilateral animal phyla. From these data, it was inferred that animals and fungi share a unique evolutionary history and that their last common ancestor was a flagellated protist similar to extant choanoflagellates.

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