Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Let’s end taxonomic blank slates with molecular morphology

Many known evolutionary lineages have yet to be described formally due
to a lack of traditional morphological characters. This is true for genetically
distinctive groups within the amoeboid Placozoa animals, the protists in ponds,
and the bacteria that cover nearly everything. These taxonomic tabula rasae,
or blank slates, are problematic; without names, communication is hampered
and other scientific progress is slowed. We suggest that the morphology of
molecules be used to help alleviate this issue. Molecules, such as proteins,
have structure. Proteins are even visualizable with X-ray crystallography, albeit
more easily detected by and easier to work with using genomic sequencing.
Given their structured nature, we believe they should not be considered as
anything less than traditional morphology. Protein-coding gene content
(presence/absence) can also be used easily with genomic sequences, and is a
convenient binary character set. With molecular morphology, we believe that
each taxonomic tabula rasa can be solved.

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