rbcL sequences indicate a single evolutionary origin of multinucleate cells in the red algal tribe Callithamnieae.

Christine Maggs, Lynne McIvor, Michael J Stanhope

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23 Citations (Scopus)


In the Ceramiaceae, one of the largest families of the red algae, there are from 1 to 4000 nuclei in each vegetative cell, but each tribe is homogeneous with respect to the uninucleate/multinucleate character state, except for the Callithamnieae. The goals of this study were to analyze rbcL gene sequences to clarify the evolution of taxa within the tribe Callithamnieae and to evaluate the potential evolutionary significance of the development of multinucleate cells in certain taxa. The genus Aglaothamnion, segregated from Callithamnion because it is uninucleate, was paraphyletic in all analyses. Callithamnion (including Aristothamnion) was monophyletic although not robustly so, apparently due to variations between taxa in rate of sequence evolution. Morphological synapomorphies were identified at different depths in the tree, supporting the molecular phylogenetic analysis. The uninucleate character state is ancestral in this tribe. The evolution of multinucleate cells has occurred once in the Callithamnieae. Multiple nuclei in each cell may combine the benefits of small C values (rapid cell cycle) with large cells (permitting morphological elaboration) while maintaining a constant ratio of nuclear volume: cytoplasmic volume.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-446
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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