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Biodiversity: molecular biological domains, symbiosis and kingdom originsThe number of extant species of organisms is estimated to be from fewer than 3 to more than 30 x 10(6) (May, 1992). Molecular biology, comparative genetics and ultrastructural analyses provide new insights into evolutionary relationships between these species, including increasingly precise ideas of how species and higher taxa have evolved from common ancestors. Accumulation of random mutations and large macromolecular sequence change in all organisms since the Proterozoic Eon has been importantly supplemented by acquisition of inherited genomes ('symbiogenesis'). Karyotypic alterations (polyploidization and karyotypic fissioning) have been added to these other mechanisms of species origin in plants and animals during the Phanerozoic Eon. The new evolution concepts (coupled with current rapid rates of species extinction and ignorance of the extent of biodiversity) prompted this analysis of the field of systematic biology and its role in the reorganization of extant species into higher taxa. Two superkingdoms (= Domains: Prokaryotae and Eukaryotae) and five kingdoms (Monera = Procaryotae or Bacteria; Protoctista: algae, amoebae, ciliates, foraminifera, oomycetes, slime molds, etc.; Mychota: 'true' fungi; Plantae: one phylum (division) of bryophytes and nine phyla of tracheophytes; and Animalia) are recognized. Two subkingdoms comprise the monera: the great diverse lineages are Archaebacteria and Eubacteria. The criteria for classification using molecular, ultrastructural and genetic data for this scheme are mentioned. For the first time since the nineteenth century, logical, technical definitions for each group are given with their time of appearance as inferred from the fossil record in the primary scientific literature. This classification scheme, which most closely reflects the evolutionary history, molecular biology, genetics and ultrastructure of extant life, requires changes in social organization of biologists, many of whom as botanists and zoologists, still behave as if there were only two important kingdoms (plants and animals).
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Margulis, L.
(University of Massachusetts Amherst 01003)
Date Acquired
August 22, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: Bio Systems
Volume: 27
Issue: 1
ISSN: 0303-2647
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
Non-NASA Center
NASA Discipline Exobiology

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