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Trees in the Web of Life

Kristen S Swithers, J Peter Gogarten and Gregory P Fournier*

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Connecticut, 91 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, CT 06269-3125, USA

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Journal of Biology 2009, 8:54  doi:10.1186/jbiol160

Published: 13 July 2009

Abstract

Reconstructing the 'Tree of Life' is complicated by extensive horizontal gene transfer between diverse groups of organisms. While numerous conceptual and technical obstacles remain, a report in this issue of Journal of Biology from Koonin and colleagues on the largest-scale prokaryotic genomic reconstruction yet attempted shows that such a tree is discernible, although its branches cannot be traced.