Prokaryotic evolution and the tree of life are two different things.
O'Malley, Maureen A.
Beiko, Robert G.
Gogarten, J. Peter
The concept of a tree of life is prevalent in the evolutionary literature. It stems from attempting to obtain a grand unified natural system that reflects a recurrent process of species and lineage splittings for all forms of life. Traditionally, the discipline of systematics operates in a similar hierarchy of bifurcating (sometimes multifurcating) categories. The assumption of a universal tree of life hinges upon the process of evolution being tree-like throughout all forms of life and all of biological time. In multicellular eukaryotes, the molecular mechanisms and species-level population genetics of variation do indeed mainly cause a tree-like structure over time. In prokaryotes, they do not. Prokaryotic evolution and the tree of life are two different things, and we need to treat them as such, rather than extrapolating from macroscopic life to prokaryotes. In the following we will consider this circumstance from philosophical, scientific, and epistemological perspectives, surmising that phylogeny opted for a single model as a holdover from the Modern Synthesis of evolution.
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notes: PMCID: PMC2761302
types: Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
Article consists of 20 pages
Vol. 4, pp. 34 -
Place of publication