Is Carl Woese losing a Kingdom?

L.A. Moran lamoran at gpu.utcc.utoronto.ca
Wed Sep 25 10:43:15 EST 1996

In article <525k5q$274 at mserv1.dl.ac.uk>,
James O. McInerney PhD <j.mcinerney at nhm.ac.uk> wrote:

[concerning the Three Domain Hypothesis and the tree of life]

>I was HUGELY interested in this area of research until all of these
>theories of symbiosis/merging of genomes and so forth.  Now there are
>only a few more researchers in this area than there are theories.  What
>is happening is that scientists are taking their favorite gene and
>constructing a phylogeny and hey presto! this is my theory for life, the
>universe and everything.  The picture is not clear, and at the time when
>the eukaryotes emerged, a number of 'unusual' events probably occurred.

At the risk of being picky allow me to point out how common it is to fall
into the trap of making unnecessary assumptions. In your last sentence you
have assumed that eukaryotes "emerged" - in other words, the assumption
seems to be that the last common ancestor of all life was a prokaryote.
This may or may not be true - we just don't know at this point. It is
important to keep an open mind on all of these points.

>So, its not just since the sequencing of the Methanococcus jannaschii
>genome that Carl Woese has been under fire.

True enough. THe important point about the Science paper is that Woese and
his colleagues continue to ignore any evidence that conflicts with their
preferred tree of life. This is a very sad situation.

Larry Moran

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