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Nat Rev Genet. 2005 Jan;6(1):58-73.

Archaeal genetics - the third way.

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Institute of Genetics, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK.


For decades, archaea were misclassified as bacteria because of their prokaryotic morphology. Molecular phylogeny eventually revealed that archaea, like bacteria and eukaryotes, are a fundamentally distinct domain of life. Genome analyses have confirmed that archaea share many features with eukaryotes, particularly in information processing, and therefore can serve as streamlined models for understanding eukaryotic biology. Biochemists and structural biologists have embraced the study of archaea but geneticists have been more wary, despite the fact that genetic techniques for archaea are quite sophisticated. It is time for geneticists to start asking fundamental questions about our distant relatives.

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