Carl Woese’s work along with my graduate school advisor, George Fox was the basis of my thesis topic at University of Houston.
On Sunday, Carl Woese – the scientist who revolutionized the way we view the evolutionary relationships among the planet’s life forms – passed away at the age of 84.  Dr. Roland Hatzenpichler, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, offers this remembrance.
In 1977, one of the most seminal publications in the history of biology – and the most influential since Darwin’s “The origin of species” – was unleashed onto an unsuspecting scientific community. In a mere three pages, the authors, led by University of Illinois biophysicist Carl R. Woese, presented a novel tool to use molecular data for the reconstruction of microbial relationships. By using ribosomal RNA – an essential component of a cell’s protein making machinery – they demonstrated that it was possible to identify and classify microbes by intrinsic characteristics of their biological sequences. The paper marked the birth of molecular phylogeny, a technique that would soon revolutionize studies in the realms of microbiology and evolution. Read More at Wired

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