An rRNA universal tree of life diagram based on a comparison of nucleic acid (RNA) sequences found in all cellular life (small subunit ribosomal RNA)

FIGURE WO-15rRNA universal tree of life based on a comparison of nucleic acid sequences found in all cellular life (small subunit ribosomal RNA)

The scale bar corresponds to 0.1 changes per nucleotide position. “A sobering aspect of large-scale phylogenetic trees, such as that shown in Fig. WO-15, is the graphical realization that most of our legacy in biological science, historically based on large organisms, has focused on a narrow slice of biological diversity. Thus, we see that animals (represented by Homo), plants (Zea), and fungi (Coprinus) [see BLUE arrows] constitute small and peripheral branches of even eukaryotic cellular diversity” (Pace, 1997).

SOURCE: From Pace, N. R. 1997. A Molecular View of Microbial Diversity and the Biosphere. Science 276:734–740. Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

From: Workshop Overview

Cover of The Social Biology of Microbial Communities
The Social Biology of Microbial Communities: Workshop Summary.
Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.
Copyright © 2012, National Academy of Sciences.

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