Endorsed by Curators:
Publisher description: In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new fieldthe study of lifes diversity and relatedness at the molecular levelis horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infectiona type of HGT.
In The Tangled Tree David Quammen, one of that rare breed of science journalists who blends exploration with a talent for synthesis and storytelling (Nature), chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made themsuch as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about mosaic creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.