Microbial Biology: Microbiology's Scarred Revolutionary

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Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 699-702
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.699

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Carl Woese started a scientific revolution--and paid a price. Twenty years ago, the University of Illinois evolutionist announced that the Archaea--a group of one-celled organisms--are so different from all other living things, including bacteria, that they belong in a separate domain of life. Far from being just one of life's five major kingdoms, microbes are actually two of its three broad domains: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya (which includes all multicellular organisms, from plants to people). The stunning implication: Most life is one celled, and all Eukarya are but a twig on what amounts to a great microbial tree. It took years for other biologists to accept this transformation of the tree of life.