Bioinformatics Education Dissemination: Reaching Out, Connecting and Knitting-together

Introduction to the Enolase Problem Space

Evolution: Tree Construction & Structural Connections

Prior to the 1980's, one of the most commonly accepted taxonomic hypotheses in biology was that all organisms belonged to one of two domains: (1) the eukaryotes, which included organisms whose cells contain a well-formed nucleus; and, (2) the prokaryotes, which included unicellular organisms whose cells lacked a nucleus, such as the bacteria. In recent years there has been a fundamental rethinking of how to organize the diversity of life. Recent molecular evidence has led to a new hypothesis- that the prokaryote domain is actually comprised of two distinct domains. Some bacteria-like organisms look like normal bacteria but may have had a distinct phylogenetic history. Consequently, these bacteria-like organisms may comprise a distinct domain, given the name Archaebacteria, or more simply, Archaea. The name reflects an untested conjecture about their evolutionary status. Recent phylogenetic evidence suggests that the Archaebacteria may be at least as old as the other major domains; hence, it now seems possible that the most recently categorized group of organisms may actually be the oldest. It is important to note that not all scientists agree with the three domain hypothesis. The bibliography section contains some suggested reading on this debate.

This problem space introduces basic skills in phylogenetic tree construction and protein structure exploration. We will learn to search databases for protein structures, explore them in your favorite structure viewer, and propose questions that may be answered using these tools.

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