Tree of life gets a new look

An artistic representation of the tree of life, with the many groups of bacteria on the left
Promo image Zosia Rostomian, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

It may be more fun to read about biologists discovering a new type of walking fish, or even a spider named after Johnny Cash, but bacteria is where biology is booming.

After discovering more than a thousand types of bacteria and Archaea over the past 15 year, scientists at UC Berkeley have taken a new stab at depicting the tree of life.

The gorgeous image that arises from the project may make you feel less special -- humans belong to the Eurkaryotes, occupying the small green tail descending from under the wings of colorful bacteria that make up the majority of species inhabiting our planet. In fact, most all the life we see around us, all the plants and animals, are out there on that small bit of the chart.

Most of the progress in identifying the hordes of new bacteria vying for a space in the diagram of all life forms can be credited to new techniques in analyzing DNA. Read more in Nature: A new view of the tree of life

Tree of life gets a new look
More like a bird of paradise than a tree, the redesign owes its form to a plethora of new bacteria species discovered in recent years

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