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domainDomäne (ger.)

  • A taxonomic category ranking above kingdom; a group of this rank. (OED 2012)
    taxonomy kingdom

    Evolution seemsto progress in a “quantized” fashion. One level or domain of organization gives rise ultimately to a higher (more complex) one. What “prokaryote” and “eukaryote” actually represent are two such domains. […] It is traditionally assumed–without evidence–that the eukaryotic domain has arisen but once; all extant eukaryotes stem from a common ancestor, itself eukaryotic. A similar prejudice holds for the prokaryotic domain […]. We […] argue that a hypothetical domain of lower complexity, that of “progenotes,” may have preceded and given rise to the prokaryotes.

    Woese, C.R. & Fox, G.E. (1977). Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: the primary kingdoms. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 74, 5088-5090: 5088.


    We propose that a formal system of organisms be established in which above the level of kingdom there exists a new taxon called a ‘domain’. Life on this planet would then be seen as comprising three domains, the Bacteria, the Archaea, and the Eucarya, each containing two or more kingdoms.

    Woese, C.R., Kandler, O. & Wheelis, M.L. (1990). Towards a natural system of organisms: Proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 87, 4576-4579: 4576.


    Proliferation of so many kingdoms in the three-domain system defeats the purpose of manageable classification of the fundamental diversity of our planetmates.

    Margulis, L. & Schwartz, K.V. (1998). Five Kingdoms: 9.