Research NewsGenetics

Life's Last Domain

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Science  23 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5278, pp. 1043-1045
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5278.1043


In what many scientists are calling a tour de force, a team of researchers report in this issue of Science (page 1058) that they've sequenced the entire genome of the archaeon microbe Methanococcus jannaschii. With it researchers have their first chance to compare the complete genomes of organisms from what seem to be the three major branches of life: the archaea, bacteria, and eukarya (which includes multicellular organisms such as plants and animals). A startling 44% of the archaeon's 1700-odd genes are entirely new to science. Says one researcher: “That's about half of the organism! It shows just how little we know about life.”