Synopsis of "Science" Article:
"In 1870 the German scientist Ernst Haeckel mapped the evolutionary
relationships of plants and animals in the first 'tree of life'. Since then
scientists have continuously redrawn and expanded the tree adding
microorganisms and using modern molecular data, yet, many parts of the tree
have remained unclear. Now a group-in-the European Molecular Biology
Laboratory [EMBL] in Heidelberg has developed a computational method that
resolves many of the open questions and produced what is likely the most
accurate tree ever. The study, which appears in the current issue of the
journal Science, gives some intriguing insights into the origins of bacteria
and the last common universal ancestor of all life on earth today."
"DNA sequences of complete genomes provide us with a direct record of
evolution", says Peer Bork, Associate Coordinator for Structural and
Computational Biology-in-EMBL, whose group carried out the project. "For a
long time the overwhelming amount of data [the human genome alone contains
enough information to fill 200 telephone books] has made it very difficult
to pinpoint the information needed for a high-resolution map of evolution.
But our study shows how this challenge can be tackled by combining different
computational methods in an automated process."
F. D. Ciccarelli, T. Doerks, C. von Mering, C. J. Creevey, B. Snel & P.
Bork. Towards automatic reconstruction of a highly resolved tree of life.
Science, 3 March 2006.
- Doug Sharp, on the still-frozen Martel Lake, WI - home of the elusive
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