Professor Hugenholtz said the scientific community generally agrees that evolutionary relationships are the most natural way to classify organisms, but bacterial taxonomy is riddled with errors, due to historical difficulties.
“This is mainly because microbial species have very few distinctive physical features, meaning that there are thousands of historically misclassified species,” he said.
“It’s also compounded by the fact that we can’t yet grow the great majority of microorganisms in the laboratory, so have been unaware of them until quite recently.”
Dr. Donovan Parks, the lead software developer on the project, is excited about the recent advancement of genome sequencing technology, and how it’s helping reconstruct the bacterial tree of life.
The research team then used these genomic blueprints to construct a giant evolutionary tree of bacteria based on 120 genes that are highly conserved across the bacterial domain.
“This tree helped us create a standardised model, where we fixed all of the misclassifications and made the evolutionary timelines between bacterial groups consistent,” Dr. Parks said.
“For example, the genus Clostridium has been a dumping ground for rod-shaped bacteria that produce spores inside their cells, so we reclassified this group into 121 separate genus groups across 29 different families.
“We’ve given bacterial classification a complete makeover, and we’re delighted that the scientific community is just as excited about this as we are.” “Scientists ‘fix’ bacterial tree of life” at Phys.org
Here’s the paper.
Surely this is only the beginning of major reorganizations. The really exciting news is that splintering lecterns in favor of how very, very fundamental current beliefs are and why everyone must believe them is giving way to specific attempts to address the mess.
See also: At New York Times: Darwin skeptic Carl Woese “effectively founded a new branch of science” (not Darwin’s Tree of Life)
New evolution book represents a “radical” new perspective
Carl Woese on the “conceptual failings of the modern evolutionary synthesis”
Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more