The Concept Of The Prokaryote Valid And Useful Or Fundamentally Flawed?

1766 Words Oct 27th, 2014 8 Pages
Is the concept of the prokaryote valid and useful or fundamentally flawed?
The term ‘prokaryote’ was coined in 1925 by Édouard Chatton in his 1925 paper ‘Pansporella perplex: Reflections on the Biology and Phylogeny of the Protozoa.’ (Chatton, 1925). Since then the term, when paired with its dichotomous counterpart ‘eukaryote’, has formed the fundamental basis for classification in biology. However in recent years the concept of the prokaryote has been wildly contested as being inaccurate (amongst other things), and the dichotomy of eukaryote/prokaryote based on a misleading and ultimately incorrect distinction that is phylogenetically contestable. This essay will examine the validity and usefulness of the concept of the prokaryote, as well as evaluate why the term or even the abolition of the term may be important in different contexts.
The definition of a ‘prokaryote’ is simply a single-celled organism with no nuclear membrane and consequently no membrane-bound organelles. It is therefore logical to assume that one would find a nucleus and membrane-bound organelles in a eukaryotic cell. Although the expression is widely accepted by myriad biologists and microbiologists alike and has been since the ‘birth’ of the term, the word has come under much scrutiny due to its ‘negative’ definition; as in ‘prokaryote’ describes that the cell is lacking characteristic eukaryotic features rather than being defined in its own terms (Woese, 1994; Pace, 2006). This topic is highly…
Open Document