Building a "tree of life" for all the species on the planet may be easier than first thought, according to a study by UC Davis researchers published in the journal Science Nov. 12.
A tree of life shows how living things have evolved since the origins of life billions of years ago, grouping related organisms on the same branch. Such trees provide an organizing framework for biology. They can be used for predicting the properties of poorly known species and are powerful tools for tasks such as drug discovery, said Michael Sanderson, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and senior author on the paper.
Comparing protein and DNA sequences is a powerful tool for creating trees, because large amounts of data can be generated quite easily. But existing databases contain big gaps, because some organisms have been studied very heavily while many others are represented by single entries or not at all.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
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