Scientists want to complete Charles Darwin’s “Tree of Life”


Scientists say that Darwin only took into account animals and plants that he could observe, not including other living things such as microbes.

It is the scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, in the United States, who want to reshape and complete the “Tree of Life” proposed by Charles Darwin in the theory of evolution, since it did not include microbes.

Proposals to change the “Tree of Life,” fundamental to Darwin’s ability to explain and defend the theory of evolution through natural selection, have recurred as scientists around the world point to the failure of Darwin’s “Tree of Life.” Take into account only the animals and plants that Darwin could observe and not the world of microbes.

Now, in an article published this week in the journal “Trends in Ecology and Evolution,” scientists also disagree with Darwin’s “Tree” but go even further and propose a new, more inclusive, picture of the evolution of organisms and ecosystems.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) created and developed the theory that evolution is by natural and sexual selection, and in the book “The Origin of Species,” states that evolution proceeds from a common ancestor.

According to researchers quoted in the journal, advances in science reveal that what is needed is an interdisciplinary approach to classifying life, incorporating the numerous species that depend on each other to survive, as well as the various bacteria that exist in beings Humans, but also in corals, algae and plants.

“In our view, we should not classify the bacteria or fungi associated with a plant species in separate phylogenetic systems (trees of life) because they are a unit of evolution work,” said Debashish Bhattacharya, a professor at Rutgers University, adding that ” The goal is to transform a two-dimensional unit into one that is multidimensional and includes biological interactions between species”.

The “Tree of Life” must have branches exemplifying how diverse life forms, such as bacteria, plants or animals, are related. Much of Earth’s biodiversity consists of microbes such as bacteria, viruses or fungi, and they often interact with plants, animals and other hosts in a beneficial or harmful way.

The authors of this work propose a new “Tree of Life” that incorporates symbioses, relations of interdependence between organisms.

They intend to use sophisticated computational methods to obtain a broader and more inclusive picture of the evolution of organisms and ecosystems. Because, instead of including symbioses, the “Tree of Life” (of Darwin) is essentially based on individual species and lineages, as if they were independent of other branches of the “Tree”.

The authors of the paper also believe that an improved “Tree of Life” can potentiate transformative impacts on many areas of science, technology and society.