Carl Woese in February 2004
|Died||December 30, 2012 (aged 84)|
|Cause of death||Pancreatic cancer|
|Alma mater||Amherst College|
|Awards||Leeuwenhoek Medal (1992)|
Selman A. Waksman Award (1995)
National Medal of Science (2000)
Crafoord Prize (2003)
|Institutions||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
Woese is famous for defining the Archaea (a new domain or kingdom of life) in 1977. He used phylogenetic taxonomy of 16S ribosomal RNA, a technique pioneered by him which is now standard practice.
Work and discoveries
After defining Archaea as a new domain, Woese redrew the taxonomic tree. His three-domain system is based upon genetic relationships. It divides life into 23 main divisions in three domains: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya. Archaea are neither bacteria nor eukaryotes. Looked at another way, they are prokaryotes that are not bacteria.
The tree of life shows the diversity of microbes. Single-celled organisms represent the vast majority of the biosphere's diversity. This is surprising to some, given our familiarity with the larger metazoan world. Microbes are responsible for many biochemical cycles and are crucial to the whole biosphere. Woese's efforts to clarify the evolution and diversity of microbes was an invaluable service to ecology, conservation and evolutionary biology.
Woese was born on July 15, 1928 in Syracuse, New York. He studied at Amherst College and at Yale University. Woese died on December 30, 2012 in his home in Urbana, Illinois from pancreatic cancer, aged 84.
- "Carl R. Woese: 1928 – 2012". The Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 2012-12-30. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
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- Woese C, Kandler O, Wheelis M (1990). "Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya.". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 87 (12): 4576–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.12.4576. PMC 54159. PMID 2112744. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/87/12/4576.
- Woese C, Magrum L, Fox G (1978). "Archaebacteria.". J Mol Evol 11 (3): 245–51. doi:10.1007/BF01734485. PMID 691075.
- Woese C, Fox G (1977). "Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: the primary kingdoms.". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 74 (11): 5088–90. doi:10.1073/pnas.74.11.5088. PMC 432104. PMID 270744.
- Woese, Carl R.; George E. Fox (1977). "Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: the primary kingdoms". PNAS 74 (11): 5088–5090. doi:10.1073/pnas.74.11.5088. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 432104. PMID 270744.
- Woese, Carl R. (1987). "Bacterial evolution.". Microbiological Reviews 51 (2): 221–271. http://mmbr.asm.org/content/51/2/221.short.
- Woese, Carl R.; Nigel Goldenfeld (2009). "How the microbial world saved evolution from the scylla of molecular biology and the charybdis of the modern synthesis". Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 73 (1): 14–21. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00002-09. http://mmbr.asm.org/content/73/1/14.abstract. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
- Woese's homepage