Carl Richard Woese ([ woʊz ]; born July 15, 1928 in Syracuse , New York , † December 30, 2012 in Urbana , Illinois ) was an American microbiologist and evolutionary biologist . He became known for his work on the evolution of the cell organization of bacteria and archaea, genetic phylogenesis and the introduction of the archaea as a new domain alongside bacteria and eukaryotes. In 1967 he proposed the priority of RNA over DNA, a theory that Walter Gilbert took up in 1986 and became known as the RNA World Hypothesis .
In 1950 he graduated from Amherst College with a BA in Mathematics and Physics. In 1953 he received his PhD in biophysics from Yale University . From 1953 to 1960 he worked as a postdoc in biophysics at Yale University.
From 1960 to 1963 he worked as a biophysicist at the General Electric Research Laboratory, then at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Since 1964, Woese was Professor of Microbiology at the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign .
In 1990, Carl Woese and Otto Kandler proposed to discard the 3-realm and 5-realm models in favor of a 3- domain model: the domains of bacteria, archaea and eukarya. By introducing the new domain of the archaea, they changed the basis of the evolutionary family tree . Woeses phylogenetic taxonomy is based on genetic investigations (comparative sequence analysis of ribosomal 16S rRNA from many different microorganisms) in contrast to the previous classification according to phenotypic differences. The more similar their rRNA sequences, the more closely related organisms are. This earned him a lot of criticism, including from famous biologists such as Salvador Luria and Ernst Mayr . It is not without reason that Science magazine called Woese “Microbiology's Scarred Revolutionary” (the scarred revolutionary in microbiology). But the growing body of supporting data led the scientific community to accept the archaea as a domain.
Horizontal gene transfer, Darwin's threshold
According to Woese, at the beginning of life, the organisms freely exchanged their genes in a shared gene pool ( horizontal gene transfer ) without speciation . This free exchange of genetic innovations was the driving force behind early cell evolution. Darwin's idea of common descent from a primordial cell is thus invalid. With the increasing complexity of the organisms, gene transfer became more problematic; the genes were increasingly passed on exclusively to the direct offspring (vertical gene transfer). Woese called this transition the “Darwinian Threshold” . Since the transition was fluid, the family tree is a network near the roots, with varying results for the root, depending on the genetic material considered.
- Member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina since 1983
- MacArthur Fellowship 1984
- Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1985
- Corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences since 1987
- Member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1988
- Leeuwenhoek Medal from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences 1992 - a prize given every ten years to a scientist who has made outstanding contributions in the field of microbiology over the past decade
- Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology from the National Academy of Sciences 1997
- National Medal of Science (USA) 2000
- Waksman Medal from the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University (USA) 2000
- Crafoord Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2003 "for his discovery of a third domain of life" (for his discovery of a third domain of life)
- Member of the American Philosophical Society 2004
- Foreign Member of the Royal Society 2006
- Nigel Goldenfeld and Norman R. Pace: Carl R. Woese (1928–2012). In: Science . Volume 339, No. 6120, 2013, p. 661, doi: 10.1126 / science.1235219
- Harry Noller : Carl R. Woese (1928–2012). In: Nature . Volume 493, No. 7434, 2013, p. 610, doi: 10.1038 / 493610a
- Jan Sapp: The New Foundations of Evolution: On the Tree of Life. Oxford University Press, New York 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-973438-2 
- David Quammen : The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life. Simon & Schuster, 2018. ISBN 978-147677662-0
- Woee's homepage , accessed November 30, 2017
- Carl R. Woese Guestbook, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois , accessed November 30, 2017
- Carl Woese The universal ancestor (1998)
- Carl R. Woese On the evolution of cells (2002)
- Carl R. Woese The archaeal concept and the world it lives in: a retrospective (2004; PDF file; 172 kB)
- Tree of Life web project
- Article about Carl Woese in the weekly newspaper der Freitag
- Visionary UI biologist Carl Woese, 84, dies. In: news-gazette.com. December 30, 2012, accessed December 15, 2017 .
- Carl R. Woese, Otto Kandler, Mark L. Wheelis: Towards a natural system of organisms: Proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria and Eucarya . In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . tape 87 , no. 12 , 1990, pp. 4576–4579 , doi : 10.1073 / pnas.87.12.4576 ( pnas.org [PDF]).
- Ernst Mayr: Two empires or three? PNAS, 1998, doi: 10.1073 / pnas.95.17.9720 (free full text).
- Carl R. Woese: Default taxonomy: Ernst Mayr's view of the microbial world. PNAS, 1998, doi: 10.1073 / pnas.95.19.11043 (free full text).
- Virginia Morell: Microbiology's Scarred Revolutionary. Science 276, 1997, doi: 10.1126 / science.276.5313.699 .
- Jonathan M .: “Microbiology's Scarred Revolutionary”: Carl Woese, RIP. Evolution News, 2013.
- CR Woese: On the evolution of cells . In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . tape 99 , no. 13 , June 2002, p. 8742-8747 , doi : 10.1073 / pnas.132266999 ( pnas.org [PDF]).
- Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology. National Academy of Sciences , accessed December 15, 2017 .
- Member History: Carl R. Woese. American Philosophical Society, accessed December 11, 2018 .
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Woese, Carl Richard (full name)|
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||American biologist|
|DATE OF BIRTH||July 15, 1928|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Syracuse , New York|
|DATE OF DEATH||December 30, 2012|
|Place of death||Urbana , Illinois|