Evaluating Maclaurin and Sterelny’s conception of biodiversity in cases of frequent, promiscuous lateral gene transfer

Morgan, Gregory
September 2010
Biology & Philosophy;Sep2010, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p603
Academic Journal
The recent conception of biodiversity proposed by James Maclaurin and Sterelny was developed mostly with macrobiological life in mind. They suggest that we measure biodiversity by dividing life into natural units (typically species) and quantifying the differences among units using phenetic rather than phylogenetic measures of distance. They identify problems in implementing quantitative phylogenetic notions of difference for non-prokaryotic species. I suggest that if we focus on microbiological life forms that engage in frequent, promiscuous lateral gene transfer (LGT), and their associated reticulated phylogenies, we need to rethink the notion of species as the natural unit, and we discover additional problems with phylogenetic notions of distance. These problems suggest that a phenetic approach based on morphospaces has just as much appeal, if not more, for microbes as they do for multi-cellular life. Facts about LGT, however, offer no new insight into the additional challenge of reconciling units and differences into a single measure of biodiversity.


Related Articles

  • N. elongata Produces Type IV Pili That Mediate Interspecies Gene Transfer with N. gonorrhoeae. Higashi, Dustin L.; Biais, Nicolas; Weyand, Nathan J.; Agellon, Al; Sisko, Jennifer L.; Brown, Lewis M.; So, Magdalene // PLoS ONE;2011, Vol. 6 Issue 6, p1 

    The genus Neisseria contains at least eight commensal and two pathogenic species. According to the Neisseria phylogenetic tree, commensals are basal to the pathogens. N. elongata, which is at the opposite end of the tree from N. gonorrhoeae, has been observed to be fimbriated, and these fimbriae...

  • Microbial systematics in the post-genomics era. Gao, Beile; Gupta, Radhey // Antonie van Leeuwenhoek;Jan2012, Vol. 101 Issue 1, p45 

    Microbial systematics and phylogeny should form the foundation and guiding light for a comprehensive understanding of different aspects of microbiology. However, there are many critical issues in microbial systematics that are currently not resolved. Some of these include: how to define and...

  • Characterization of Hymenobacter isolates from Victoria Upper Glacier, Antarctica reveals five new species and substantial non-vertical evolution within this genus. Klassen, Jonathan L.; Foght, Julia M. // Extremophiles;Jan2011, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p45 

    We isolated several Hymenobacter-like strains from Victoria Upper Glacier, Antarctica, basal ice that diverged substantially from currently defined Hymenobacter species according to their 16S rRNA and gyrB gene phylogenies. All strains were psychrotolerant, heterotrophic aerobes which grew...

  • Phylogenetic diversity of Acidobacteria in a former agricultural soil. Kielak, Anna; Pijl, Agata S.; van Veen, Johannes A.; Kowalchuk, George A. // ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology;Mar2009, Vol. 3 Issue 3, p378 

    Although Acidobacteria represent the most abundant bacterial phylum in many soils, knowledge of acidobacterial diversity is still rather incomplete. We, therefore, examined the diversity of 16S rRNA genes affiliated with this phylum in a former arable soil via three independent approaches: (1)...

  • The diversities of biodiversity. Justus, James // Metascience;Jul2010, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p247 

    The article reviews the book "What Is Biodiversity?," by James Maclaurin and Kim Sterelny.

  • Competence Pheromones in Bacteria. Prozorov, A.A. // Microbiology (00262617);Jan2001, Vol. 70 Issue 1, p1 

    This article deals with general concepts concerning bacterial pheromones, including sex pheromones. The data on the structure and mode of action of competence pheromones in streptococci and bacilli are discussed, raising the question of the selective value of the process of genetic...

  • Protein based molecular markers provide reliable means to understand prokaryotic phylogeny and support Darwinian mode of evolution. Bhandari, Vaibhav; Naushad, Hafiz S.; Gupta, Radhey S. // Frontiers in Cellular & Infection Microbiology;Jul2012, Vol. 2, p1 

    The analyses of genome sequences have led to the proposal that lateral gene transfers (LGTs) among prokaryotes are so widespread that they disguise the interrelationships among these organisms. This has led to questioning of whether the Darwinian model of evolution is applicable to prokaryotic...

  • Occurrence of Hydrogenases in Cyanobacteria and Anoxygenic Photosynthetic Bacteria: Implications for the Phylogenetic Origin of Cyanobacterial and Algal Hydrogenases. Ludwig, Marcus; Schulz-Friedrich, Rüdiger; Appel, Jens // Journal of Molecular Evolution;Dec2006, Vol. 63 Issue 6, p758 

    Hydrogenases are important enzymes in the energy metabolism of microorganisms. Therefore, they are widespread in prokaryotes. We analyzed the occurrence of hydrogenases in cyanobacteria and deduced a FeFe-hydrogenase in three different heliobacterial strains. This allowed the first phylogenetic...

  • Biased gene transfer in microbial evolution. Andam, Cheryl P.; Gogarten, J. Peter // Nature Reviews Microbiology;Jul2011, Vol. 9 Issue 7, p543 

    Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is an important evolutionary process that allows the spread of innovations between distantly related organisms. We present evidence that prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) are more likely to transfer genetic material with their close relatives than with distantly...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics