first use of genetic data to disecern information about phylogenetic
trees, although indirectly, was in an experiment at the turn of the
twentieth century by the biologist George Henry Faulkner Nuttall.
In his study of 1904, Blood Immunity and Blood Relationship,
he was comparing immunological characteristics of certain blood proteins
of primates, including humans. Although long before the molecular
basis of inheritance had been determined, Nuttall's experiment revealed
that humans were more closely related to African apes than Asian apes
based on proteins of the blood.
was not until the 1960's however, with the understanding of the role
of DNA in heredity and the production of proteins, that it was assumed
that a molecular approach to phylogeny would be significantly more
successful than morphology. Among the first techniques to be developed
were immunodiffusion and DNA-DNA hybridisation. Both techniques are
'distance measures', and measure the degree of difference between
two molecules, whether it be two proteins or two strands of DNA.
the last two decades the more recently developed techniques of protein
sequencing and DNA sequencing have revolutionised molecular systematics,
and the development of more effective and efficient computational
methods has meant that both techniques can be used more extensively
and much more rapidly.
a description of the development and implementation of the molecular
methods mentioned above click on the following links: