The Flawed Prokaryote

Bacterial origins There are two types of biologist – those who think that prokaryotes exist and those who don’t.

The simple binary divide between prokaryotes and eukarotes is an old (19th Century) idea. Splitting all life forms into two headings (let’s leave viruses out of this for now) is seductive. The problem is that this old idea – still trotted out in textbooks – doesn’t stand up to molecular data. Even though we only need three domains (bacteria, eukarya and archaea) to account for scientific observations, the old prokaryote-eukaryote idea just won’t die. Think about that when you’re writing your essays…


Pace, N.R. (2006) Time for a change. Nature, 441(7091), 289-289. doi:10.1038/441289a

Close Encounters of the Third Domain: The Emerging Genomic View of Archaeal Diversity and Evolution. Archaea, 2013.

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2 Responses to The Flawed Prokaryote

  1. It is as saying that “information technology” is an irrelevant concept with the new developments over the last 30 years. Yes, the term procaryotes masks an increasing amount of diversity, but the understanding of the concept should evolve not be removed.

  2. ..if anything should go it is the term “microbiology” which is utterly meaningless :)

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