Phylogenetic relationships of basidiomycetous yeasts, especially of the genus Rhodotorula, were studied using partial sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The results demonstrated that the basidiomycetous yeasts under investigation distributed into two main clusters: one containing Tremellales, Filobasidiales and their anamorphs and the other containing Ustilaginales, Sporidiales and their anamorphs. This clustering in turn correlates with cell wall biochemistry, presence or absence of xylose, and septal ultrastructure, dolipore or simple pore. Bullera, Bulleromyces, Filobasidiella, Cryptococcus and Trichosporon, yeasts of the former cluster, contain xylose in the cell wall and have dolipore septa. In contrast yeasts of the latter cluster, which included Bensingtonia, Erythrobasidium, Leucosporidium, Malassezia, Rhodosporidium, Rhodotorula, Sporidiobolus, Sporobolomyces and Ustilago, have no xylose in the cell wall and have a simple pore septum. Yeasts of the latter group could be further divided into four clades (A-D). Species of Rhodotorula were distributed in all of these clades, indicating the polyphyletic nature of the genus. A limited number of Rhodotorula species demonstrated identical sequences, for example Rhodotorula bacarum and Rhodotorula foliorum, Rhodotorula fujisanensis and Rhodotorula futronensis, Rhodotorula glutinis var. dairenensis and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa. However, all the other test species of the genus Rhodotorula were well separated based on their 396 bp nucleotide sequences. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the use of cytochrome b sequences for both species identification and the study of phylogenetic relationships among basidiomycetous yeasts.


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