Oh wait, wait, stop wait, the correct word is “reshaping” the Tree of Life. It still smells like fresh lumber to us.
A new era in science has emerged without a clear path to portraying the impacts of microbes across the tree of life. What’s needed is an interdisciplinary approach to classifying life that incorporates the countless species that depend on each other for health and survival, such as the diverse bacteria that coexist with humans, corals, algae and plants, according to the researchers, whose paper is published online in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
“In our opinion, one should not classify the bacteria or fungi associated with a plant species in separate phylogenetic systems (trees of life) because they’re one working unit of evolution,” said paper senior author Debashish Bhattacharya, distinguished professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, in the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “The goal is to transform a two-dimensional tree into one that is multi-dimensional and includes biological interactions among species.”
A tree of life has branches showing how diverse forms of life, such as bacteria, plants and animals, evolved and are related to each other. Much of Earth’s biodiversity consists of microbes, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, and they often interact with plants, animals and other hosts in beneficial or harmful ways. Forms of life that are linked physically and evolve together (i.e. are co-dependent) are called symbiomes, the paper says. Paper. (paywall) – Erin A. Tripp, Ning Zhang, Harald Schneider, Ying Huang, Gregory M. Mueller, Zhihong Hu, Max Häggblom, Debashish Bhattacharya. Reshaping Darwin’s Tree: Impact of the Symbiome. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, June 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2017.05.002 More.