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Partial sequence of 16S ribosomal RNA and the phylogeny of Prochloron

Abstract

Prochloron, a symbiont of colonial ascidians, is a unicellular prokaryote, containing chlorophylls a and b and lacking phycobiliproteins1, thus differing from all other prokaryotes found, and resembling the chloroplasts of Euglenaphyceae, Chlorophyceae and those of higher plants in respect of their photosynthetic pigments. Some workers in the field of endosymbiosis already favour the idea that the green algal chloroplasts may have arisen by the uptake of prochlorons as symbionts2–5. Partial sequence analysis of 16S ribosomal RNA of Prochloron in fact assigns this organism to the cyanobacteria–chloroplast line of descent6–8. However, we report here that a comparison of 16S ribosomal RNA sequences detects no specific relationship between Prochloron and the chloroplasts of the green algae Euglena gracilis and Chlamydomonas reinhardii, nor between Prochloron and the chloroplasts of higher plants, represented by Lemna and Zea mays. On the contrary, Prochloron shows the highest sequence homology with Nostoc, Fischerella, Agmenellum, Aphanocapsa and Synechococcus. These results question the significance of Prochloron in the current view of the origin of chloroplasts.

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Seewaldt, E., Stackebrandt, E. Partial sequence of 16S ribosomal RNA and the phylogeny of Prochloron. Nature 295, 618–620 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1038/295618a0

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