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Illinois IGB

Carl R. Woese Remembrances

January 10, 2013

Carl R. Woese, who overturned one of the major dogmas of biology with the discovery of Archaea, the third domain of life, passed away following complications from pancreatic cancer at the age of 84. Carl was a professor of Microbiology and a faculty member of the Institute for Genomic Biology, who had a tremendous impact both on biology and on this institute.

We invite family, friends, and colleagues of Carl Woese to contribute memories or condolences to our online guest book, which can be found here.

More about the groundbreaking work that led to the disovery of the third domain of life can be found on the Archaea page.

Also available is the 1977 publication “Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: The primary kingdoms,” by Carl R. Woese and George E. Fox, in which Archaea, the third domain of life, is identified.

Related are the commentaries on the 1977 publication, including “Woese and Fox: Life, rearranged,” by Prashant Nair, and “Phylogeny and beyond: Scientific, historical, and conceptual significance of the first tree of life,” by Norman R. Pace, Jan Sapp, and Nigel Goldenfeld.

The first sequenced archaeon, as detailed in Science magazine, can be found here: “Complete Genome Sequence of the Methanogenic Archaeon, Methanococcus jannaschii,” Bult et al., 1996.

The 30th anniversary of the first report of the discovery of Archaea was celebrated in 2007 at the IGB, with a symposium covering the historical aspects of the discovery and how this knowledge has transformed microbial ecology. The program, including videos of the presentations, is available at

January 10, 2013
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