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Phylogenomics provides robust support for a two-domains tree of life

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor T. Martin Embley FMedSci FRS



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2020.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.Hypotheses about the origin of eukaryotic cells are classically framed within the context of a universal ‘tree of life’ based on conserved core genes. Vigorous ongoing debate about eukaryote origins is based on assertions that the topology of the tree of life depends on the taxa included and the choice and quality of genomic data analysed. Here we have reanalysed the evidence underpinning those claims and apply more data to the question by using supertree and coalescent methods to interrogate >3,000 gene families in archaea and eukaryotes. We find that eukaryotes consistently originate from within the archaea in a two-domains tree when due consideration is given to the fit between model and data. Our analyses support a close relationship between eukaryotes and Asgard archaea and identify the Heimdallarchaeota as the current best candidate for the closest archaeal relatives of the eukaryotic nuclear lineage.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Williams TA, Cox CJ, Foster PG, Szollosi GJ, Embley TM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Ecology & Evolution

Year: 2020

Volume: 4

Pages: 138-147

Print publication date: 01/01/2020

Online publication date: 09/12/2019

Acceptance date: 15/10/2019

Date deposited: 13/11/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2397-334X

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-1040-x


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