In defense of ‘prokaryotes’
Fine, I get it. "Prokaryotes" is a wrong taxonomic term. It's wrong to lump bacteria and archaea together. That would be like saying "eutoichic" to lump all bacteria, archaea, plants and fungi together because they have cell walls. ("τοίχος" =wall in Greek. My Google Translate-foo is STRONG!) Still, there are so many things in common among bacteria and archaea: small, unicellular, cell wall (most
), no well-defined organelles (but see this
), fission (most), compact genomes, few introns
, prophages, genomic islands... and the list goes on.
Not a cell wall
So, for example, when I am developing computational metagenomics analysis tools, they invariably tend to target both bacteria and archaea. However, these tools are usually not good for microbial eukaryotes, due to different rRNA size, the larger genomes with more non-coding regions, lack of operons, organelles genomes, introns, etc. So for this utilitarian purpose, "prokaryotes" would be a good verbal shortcut to the cumbersome "bacteria and archaea" when describing or documenting the software. So can we all agree on "prokaryotes" as a verbal shortcut of necessity but not as a taxonomic definition? Or am I missing something substantial here?
An illustrative example of the rational, cool-headed debate that may ensue:
Herpetology Credit: xkcd.com