What if someone found an organism whose genes assignation is 1/3 bacterial, 1/3 archaeal, and 1/3 unknown?
We jumped the gun and posed this question to our friend Ramy Aziz. He responded with answers that reflect various phylogenetic points of view.
- Scientist A thinks this organism is whatever its ribosomal DNA tells us it is.
- Scientist B believes it's whatever its recA gene tells us it is.
- Scientist C proposes that this is proof that there is no tree of life, but rather a reticulum.
- Scientist D declares that, whatever it is, it’s certainly not a prokaryote (as there is no such thing).
- Scientist E tells us that it's an unknown organism that ate both a bacterium and an archaeon.
- Scientist F puts forth that that proves there is a fourth domain of life, or — just wait a while — that it's a synthetic, biologically-created hybrid.
- Scientist G says that it's proof of a viral origin of life.