Prokaryota & Eukaryota; Lumpers & Splitters

B. J. Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Mon Apr 17 09:04:03 CDT 2000

Ken Kinman wrote:
>     But the concept of a primitive group of organisms without nuclei seems
>to have originated with Haeckel in the 19th Century under the name Monera
>(which is basically synonymous with Prokaryota).

"Primitive" always sounds rather gradistic to me - next time you read about
the forward march of tuberculosis or the increase in hospital infections
you will realise that bacteria are very much "up-to-date". They are only
"primitive" in being unicellular. Even Haeckel put Monera at the base of
the tree and did not consider the group to represent "crown taxa".

>    This too continues to cause confusion, but nothing  compared to the
>confusion the Woesian approach is causing in bacteriology.  The current
>taxonomic inflation (extreme splitting) which is now apparent in
>microbiology (apparently even the new Bergey's Manual, which is
>traditionally conservative) will eventually be followed by a lumper's swing
>back to a more intelligible and heuristic classification of bacteria.  In
>the meantime, I pity anyone (students, doctors, clinicians, and biologists
>in general) who has to try to wade through the mess during the coming
>decade.  The sad thing is that this kind of mess is totally preventable and

Again I can't agree. I see no reason why we should not recognise the
diversity within "prokaryotes". The main reason for not recognising the
diversity at present seems to come from the fact that they are not
morphologically complex (c.f. Mayr). However, the diversity is apparent at
other levels. I am not basing my interpretation on 16S rDNA data alone!

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