Hug’s Tree of Life makes Altmetric’s top 100 articles of 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A diagram representing the expanded tree of life.
Biology professor Laura Hug’s A New View of the Tree of Life is ranked one of the most-discussed journal articles of 2016, according to Altmetric’s top 100 articles of 2016 list.

Published in Nature Microbiology in April 2016, Hug, working with Dr. Jillian Banfield at UC Berkeley and collaborators, revised Charles Darwin’s “tree of life,” discovering 1,000 new microorganisms that may provide keys to cleaning up environmental contamination in water and on land.

The paper was in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by the U.K.-based company that tracks and analyzes the online activity around scholarly research outputs. It placed 79th among the 2.7 million research outputs Altmetric tracked this year and received mentions from a host of online platforms, including 45 news outlets.

Hug’s research suggests that humans are but a small, rather insignificant part of the ever-growing tree of life. She will continue to focus not just on characterizing new organisms in the environment, but understanding the function of new genetic material.

"Contaminated sites are extreme environments with microbial communities that have adapted to these harsh conditions and whose members are often able to degrade the contaminants,” says Hug, a Water Institute member from the Faculty of Science. “This new tree highlights how much microbial diversity is still uncharacterised, including organisms with activities we can use for remediation."

by Amy Geddes, The Water Institute