Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 23 09:22:10 CST 1998

      Misnomers at lower taxonomic levels are a dime a dozen.  By far
the WORST CASE is at the highest taxonomic level of Domain.  As I stated
in my October 1997 article, "Archaea" (formerly Archaebacteria) is
totally misleading and inappropriate.  Dr. Woese even admitted that
Eubacteria were more primitive (or archaic) months before he proposed
the name Domain "Archaea".  Although eminent scientists (Ernst Mayr,
Lynn Margulis, Thomas Cavalier-Smith, etc.) vehemently oppose Woese's
system of classification, many in the scientific community have
continued to jump on Woese's band-wagon.  I strongly urge a critical
rethinking of Woese's views (including an over-reliance on the 16S rRNA
molecule, which is admittedly very valuable, but is still just a tiny
part of the total genome).  As a colleague in Germany put it to me, we
need a Tree of Life, not a TREE OF RIBOSOMES.
     Many biologists have stuck with the name Archaebacteria, but now
that a lot more people know that the far more appropriate name
METABACTERIA was proposed almost 20 years ago (11 years before Woese
came up with "Archaea"), I think we will see increasing use of the names
Metabacteria (Archaebacteria) side-by-side for a time, and Metabacteria
will eventually supplant both Archaebacteria and "Archaea".  One of the
many side benefits of this will be the realization that using
Metabacteria (Archaebacteria) as an outgroup to Eubacteria must stop
(otherwise Eubacterial phylogenies will continue to be badly distorted
and display supposedly inexplicable incongruencies).  This is not just a
debate over a mere misnomer, for it distorts our conceptions of
prokaryotic evolution and is already having repercussions outside of
biology (chemistry, paleontology, and no doubt the economically
important areas of medicine and agriculture).  Woese's Three Domains (a
recycled form of his discredited Three Urkingdoms), and the circular
reasoning that appears to support it, will eventually fall like a house
of cards.                                                       Kenneth
E. Kinman
                                           P.O. Box 1377
                                           Hays, Kansas  67601
Internet homepage:  www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/5074

Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com

More information about the Taxacom mailing list