A phylogenetic analysis of 17 species belonging to the genus Kluyveromyces and 12 reference and outgroup species was performed using mitochondrial cytochrome-c oxidase II gene sequences. The genus Kluyveromyces appears as a polyphyletic taxon formed by species included within the following four main groups. The Kluyveromyces phaffii group encompasses the species Kluyveromyces blattae, K. phaffii and Kluyveromyces yarrowii. The Kluyveromyces marxianus group is a monophyletic group consisting of the species Kluyveromyces aestuarii, Kluyveromyces dobzhanskii, Kluyveromyces lactis, K. marxianus and Kluyveromyces wickerhamii. The monophyletic Kluyveromyces thermotolerans group is formed by K. thermotolerans, Kluyveromyces waltii and Saccharomyces kluyveri (which appears in the mitochondrial tree as the sister clade of the K. marxianus group). Finally, the Saccharomyces cerevisiae group contains the remaining Kluyveromyces species, as well as the reference Saccharomyces species (sensu lato and sensu stricto) and Candida glabrata (the phylogenetic relationships within this group are unclear according to the bootstrap test). The phylogenetic relationships obtained for this mitochondrial gene are, for the most part, congruent with previous trees based on nuclear rRNA sequences, except for the position of K. yarrowii and the close relationship between the K. marxianus and K. thermotolerans groups. These differences, as well as the existence of these groups, are discussed in the context of previous studies based on phenotypic, genetic and molecular data. Although additional studies are required to decipher the phylogenetic relationships between the genus Kluyveromyces and the closely related genera Saccharomyces, Torulaspora and Zygosaccharomyces, future changes to their taxonomic status should take account of the existence of these four groups of Kluyveromyces species.


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