Two or three domains: a new view of tree of life in the genomics era

Zhichao Zhou, Yang Liu, Meng Li*, Ji Dong Gu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The deep phylogenetic topology of tree of life is in the center of a long-time dispute. The Woeseian three-domain tree theory, with the Eukarya evolving as a sister clade to Archaea, competes with the two-domain tree theory (the eocyte tree), with the Eukarya branched within Archaea. Revealed by the ongoing debate over the last three decades, sophisticated and proper phylogenetic methods should necessarily be paid with more emphasis, especially these are focusing on the compositional heterogeneity of sites and lineages, and the heterotachy issue. The newly emerging archaeal lineages with numerous eukaryotic-like features, such as membrane trafficking and cellular compartmentalization, are phylogenetically the closest to eukaryotes currently. These findings highlight the evolutionary history from an ancient archaeon to a more complex archaeon with protoeukaryotic-like features and complex cellular structures, thus providing clues to understand eukaryogenesis process. The increasing repertoire of precise genomic contents provides great advantages on understanding the deep phylogeny of tree of life and ancient evolutionary events on Eukarya branching process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3049-3058
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Asgard superphylum
  • Eocyte tree
  • Eukaryotic-like features
  • Tree of life
  • Woeseian tree


Dive into the research topics of 'Two or three domains: a new view of tree of life in the genomics era'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this