Evolution without species: The case of mosaic bacteriophages

Abstract
College of Medicine, University of South Alabama Mobile, AL 36688-0002, USA wbp501{at}jaguar1.usouthal.edu ' + u + '@' + d + ' '//-->   Abstract Recent work in viral genomics has shown that bacteriophages exhibit a high degree of mosaicism, which is most likely due to a long history of prolific horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Given these findings, we argue that each of the most plausible attempts to properly classify bacteriophages into distinct species fail. Mayr's biological species concept fails because there is no useful viral analog to sexual reproduction. Phenetic species concepts fail because they obscure the mosaicism and the rich reticulated viral histories. Phylogenetic species concepts, even when extended to take into account reticulation, fail because there is no non-arbitrary distinction between recombination events that create a new viral species and those that do not. There is good reason to think that bacteriophages, arguably the Earth's most abundant biological agent, evolve without forming species. Introduction The Biology of Viruses 2.1 Bacteriophage life cycles 2.2 Mechanisms of HGT The Species Problem and Species Concepts 3.1 Phenetic species concepts 3.2 The biological species concept 3.3 Phylogenetic species concepts 3.4 The ecological species concept 3.5 Homeostatic property cluster species Viruses and Species Taxonomy Reticular Phylogenies Conclusion CiteULike     Connotea     Del.icio.us     What's this?
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Michael T. Ghiselin (2007). Is the Pope a Catholic? Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):283-291.
David L. Hull (1978). A Matter of Individuality. Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.

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