PerspectiveRetrospective

Carl R. Woese (1928–2012)

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Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 661
DOI: 10.1126/science.1235219

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Summary

Carl Woese was not a well-known personality outside of microbiology and evolutionary biology, but he forever changed our understanding of the biosphere and its evolution. He passed away at his home in Urbana, Illinois, on 30 December 2012. Carl Woese developed the modern gene sequence–based understanding of biological organization, showing that the evolutionary history of lineages can be tracked to a common ancestral state. In doing so, he discovered the third domain of life, which came to be known as the archaea. His story is the epitome of the outsider, a lone and dedicated visionary who overthrew a century of dogma and established thought and brought about a revolution that has touched every area of modern biology.

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