Stalking the fourth domain in metagenomic data: searching for, discovering, and interpreting novel, deep branches in marker gene phylogenetic trees
Wu D, Wu M, Halpern A, Rusch DB, Yooseph S, Frazier M, Venter JC, Eisen JA
Most of our knowledge about the ancient evolutionary history of organisms has been derived from data associated with specific known organisms (i.e., organisms that we can study directly such as plants, metazoans, and culturable microbes). Recently, however, a new source of data for such studies has arrived: DNA sequence data generated directly from environmental samples. Such metagenomic data has enormous potential in a variety of areas including, as we argue here, in studies of very early events in the evolution of gene families and of species.