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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2016 Sep 8;70:279-97. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-102215-095456. Epub 2016 Jul 6.

The Modern Synthesis in the Light of Microbial Genomics.

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  • 1Department of Philosophy, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4R2, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • 2Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4R2, Nova Scotia, Canada; email:
  • 3Department of Philosophy, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada 89557.


We review the theoretical implications of findings in genomics for evolutionary biology since the Modern Synthesis. We examine the ways in which microbial genomics has influenced our understanding of the last universal common ancestor, the tree of life, species, lineages, and evolutionary transitions. We conclude by advocating a piecemeal toolkit approach to evolutionary biology, in lieu of any grand unified theory updated to include microbial genomics.


Modern Synthesis; endosymbiosis; genomics; lateral gene transfer; microbiology; tree of life

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