Trees in conflict: Fabled Darwinian tree of life like a “contentious wiki page”?
|August 8, 2013||Posted by News under News, Tree of life|
Trees in conflict: Fabled Darwinian tree of life like a contentious wiki page?
So we learn from Wired Science:
The current version of the tree of life is more like a contentious wiki page than a published book, with certain branches subject to frequent debate. Indeed, just as the spinal column and limbs created contrasting maps of primate evolution, scientists now know that different genes in the same organism can tell different stories.
While evolutionary biologists have been grappling with these issues for years, the new study is the largest-scale effort to date to explore the level of conflict among individual genes. “People will have two reactions: There is a lot more conflict than I thought, and we need to do a better job of analyzing it,” said Donoghue, who is interested in applying the new method in his own work. However, he also points out that it’s difficult to confirm the accuracy of the new approach. Even though the revised tree matched one built using alternative genetic information, the latter may harbor its own inaccuracies. “I am not so sure we know what the true relationships are,” he said. “If we aren’t sure what the truth is, we can’t tell if we have the right tree.”
Guess not. From the big yeast study:
The result, published in Nature in May, was unexpected. Every gene they studied appeared to tell a slightly different story of evolution.
“Just about all the trees from individual genes were in conflict with the tree based on a concatenated data set,” says Hilu. “It’s a bit shocking.”
The only certainty, it now seems, is orthodoxy: The evolutionary biologists are right, whatever they say, even when they are in conflict.