David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):569-588 (2010)
The Tree of Life hypothesis frames the evolutionary process as a series of events whereby lineages diverge from one another, thus creating the diversity of life as descendent lineages modify properties from their ancestors. This hypothesis is under scrutiny due to the strong evidence for lateral gene transfer between distantly related bacterial taxa, thereby providing extant taxa with more than one parent. As a result, one argues, the Tree of Life becomes confounded as the original branching structure is gradually superseded by reticulation, ultimately losing its ability to serve as a model for bacterial evolution. Here we address a more fundamental issue: is there a Tree of Life that results from bacterial evolution without considering such lateral gene transfers? Unlike eukaryotic speciation events, lineage separation in bacteria is a gradual process that occurs over tens of millions of years, whereby genetic isolation is established on a gene-by-gene basis. As a result, groups of closely related bacteria, while showing robust genetic isolation as extant lineages, were not created by an unambiguous series of lineage-splitting events. Rather, a temporal fragmentation of the speciation process results in cognate genes showing different genetic relationships. We argue that lineage divergence in bacteria does not produce a tree-like framework, and inferences drawn from such a framework have the potential to be incorrect and misleading. Therefore, the Tree of Life is an inappropriate paradigm for bacterial evolution regardless of the extent of gene transfer between distantly related taxa.
|Keywords||Philosophy Evolutionary Biology Philosophy of Biology|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Charles Darwin (2008). On the Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Sterling Pub..
Ernst Mayr (1963). Animal Species and Evolution. Belknap of Harvard University Press.
Richard Boyd (1999). Homeostasis, Species, and Higher Taxa. In R. A. Wilson (ed.), Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays. MIT Press 141-85.
Leigh Van Valen (1976). Ecological Species, Multispecies, and Oaks. Taxon 25:233-239.
E. O. Wiley (1978). The Evolutionary Species Concept Reconsidered. Systematic Zoology 27:17-26.
Citations of this work BETA
Maureen A. O’Malley (2013). When Integration Fails: Prokaryote Phylogeny and the Tree of Life. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):551-562.
Marc Ereshefsky (2010). Microbiology and the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):553-568.
Eric Bapteste & John Dupré (2013). Towards a Processual Microbial Ontology. Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):379-404.
Gregory J. Morgan (2010). Evaluating Maclaurin and Sterelny's Conception of Biodiversity in Cases of Frequent, Promiscuous Lateral Gene Transfer. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):603-621.
John Huss (2014). Methodology and Ontology in Microbiome Research. Biological Theory 2014 (4):1-11.
Similar books and articles
Maureen A. O’Malley, William Martin & John Dupré (2010). The Tree of Life: Introduction to an Evolutionary Debate. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):441-453.
John S. Wilkins (2007). The Dimensions, Modes and Definitions of Species and Speciation. Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):247-266.
W. Ford Doolittle (2010). The Attempt on the Life of the Tree of Life: Science, Philosophy and Politics. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):455-473.
Cheryl P. Andam, David Williams & J. Peter Gogarten (2010). Natural Taxonomy in Light of Horizontal Gene Transfer. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):589-602.
Frédéric Bouchard (2010). Symbiosis, Lateral Function Transfer and the (Many) Saplings of Life. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):623-641.
Maureen A. O’Malley (2010). Ernst Mayr, the Tree of Life, and Philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):529-552.
L. R. Franklin-Hall (2010). Trashing Life's Tree. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):689-709.
Joel D. Velasco (2010). Species, Genes, and the Tree of Life. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 61 (3):599-619.
L. R. Franklin (2007). Bacteria, Sex, and Systematics. Philosophy of Science 74 (1):69-95.
Added to index2010-05-07
Total downloads42 ( #106,196 of 1,938,823 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #125,144 of 1,938,823 )
How can I increase my downloads?