Ribosomal RNA: A key to phylogeny

Gary J. Olsen, Carl R. Woese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As molecular phylogeny increasingly shapes our understanding of organismal relationships, no molecule has been applied to more questions than have ribosomal RNAs. We review this role of the rRNAs and some of the insights that have been gained from them. We also offer some of the practical considerations in extracting the phylogenetic information from the sequences. Finally, we stress the importance of comparing results from multiple molecules, both as a method for testing the overall reliability of the organismal phylogeny and as a method for more broadly exploring the history of the genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993


  • Least squares distance
  • Maximum likelihood
  • Maximum parsimony
  • Molecular phylogeny

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology


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