Multi-gene phylogenetic analysis of the supergroup Excavata
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The supergroup Excavata, one of six supergroups of eukaryotes, has been a controversial supergroup within the Eukaryotic Tree of Life. Excavata was originally based largely on morphological data and to date has not been well supported by molecular studies. The goals of this research were to test the monophyly of Excavata and to observe relationships among the nine subgroups of excavates included in this study. Several different types of phylogenetic analyses were performed on a data set consisting of sequences from nine reasonably conserved genes. Analyses of this data set recovered monophyly of Excavata with moderate to strong support. Topology tests rejected all but two topologies: one with a monophyletic Excavata and one with Excavata split into two major clades. Simple gap coding, which was performed on the ribosomal DNA alignments, was found to be more useful for species-level analyses than deeper relationships with the eukaryotes.