Phylogenomics and the Tree of Life: Progresses and Challenges

by Simonetta Gribaldo (Dept of Microbiology, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France)



Reconstructing ancient evolutionary events is one of the most fascinating and challenging issues of modern Biology, which provides essential information on the earliest nature of Life and Earth. The last few years have witnessed a renewed interest in research on deep evolution. Sequence data have become available from previously poorly sampled and important fractions of microbial diversity, notably the Archaea. At the same time, progresses in phylogenomics approaches have allowed to reconstruct large-scale organismal relationships more reliably. This has allowed to re-investigating a number of key evolutionary transitions, such as the origin of Eukaryotes, and has led to important paradigm-shifting results. Major open questions and challenging issues remain however ahead. These include clarifying the deepest divergences in each of the three domains, as well as the very root of the universal tree.