J Syst Evol ›› 2008, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (3): 263-273.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1002.2008.08060

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

An overview of the phylogeny and diversity of eukaryotes

Sandra L. BALDAUF*   

  1. (Department of Evolution, Genomics and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, University of Uppsala, Norbyvägen 18 D, Uppsala 75236, Sweden)sandra.baldauf@ebc.uu.se

  • Received:2008-04-22 Published:2008-05-18


Our understanding of eukaryote biology is dominated by the study of land plants, animals and fungi. However, these are only three isolated fragments of the full diversity of extant eukaryotes. The majority of eukaryotes, in terms of major taxa and probably also sheer numbers of cells, consists of exclusively or predominantly unicellular lineages. A surprising number of these lineages are poorly characterized. Nonetheless, they are fundamental to our understanding of eukaryote biology and the underlying forces that shaped it. This article consists of an overview of the current state of our understanding of the eukaryote tree. This includes the identity of the major groups of eukaryotes, some of their important, defining or simply interesting features and the proposed relationships of these groups to each other.

Key words: biodiversity, eukaryotes, molecular evolution, phylogeny, systematics, tree of life