Pneumocystis is a fungal genus that contains multiple species. One member of the genus that has not been formally analysed for its phylogenetic relationships and possible species status is the Pneumocystis found in laboratory mice, Pneumocystis murina sp. nov. (type strain ATCC PRA-111T=CBS 114898T), formerly known as Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. muris. To advance research in this area, approximately 3000 bp of additional DNA sequence were obtained from the locus encoding rRNAs. This sequence and others were used to determine genetic distances between P. murina and other members of the genus. These distances indicated that P. murina DNA is most similar to that of the species of Pneumocystis found in laboratory rats. Nevertheless, P. murina is at least as diverged from these other Pneumocystis species as species in other fungal genera are from each other. The 18S rRNA gene sequence divergence exhibited by P. murina could not be ascribed to accelerated evolution of this gene as similar levels of divergence were observed at seven other loci. When five genes were used to construct phylogenetic trees for five Pneumocystis taxa, including P. murina, all the trees had the same topology, indicating that genes do not flow among these taxa. The gene trees were all strongly supported by statistical tests. When sequences from the rRNA-encoding locus were used to estimate the time of divergence of P. murina, the results indicated that P. murina is as old as the mouse. Taken together, these data support previous recognition of multiple species in the genus and indicate that P. murina is a phylogenetic species as well.
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