George E. Fox

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George E. Fox
George E. Fox at the Kluge Center.jpg
Fox at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in 2016
Born (1945-12-17) December 17, 1945 (age 77)
Alma materSyracuse University
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Houston

George Edward Fox (born December 17, 1945) is an astrobiologist, a Professor Emeritus and researcher at the University of Houston. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the International Astrobiology Society. Fox received his B.A. degree in 1967, and completed his Ph.D. degree in 1974; both in chemical engineering at Syracuse University.

From the Fall of 1973 until 1977, Fox was a research associate with Carl R. Woese at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their collaboration initially focused on 5S ribosomal RNA where they established the use of a comparative sequence approach to predict RNA secondary structure.[1] Next, utilizing 16S ribosomal RNA finger printing technology developed in the Woese laboratory in large part by Mitchell Sogin, Fox and Woese discovered the third form of life now known as the Archaea.[2]

It has been said that their 1977 paper “may be the most important paper ever in microbiology”.[3] This seminal paper is now considered to be a PNAS classic.[4] Fox and Woese also introduced the idea of a progenote as a primordial entity in the evolution of life.[5]

In the Fall of 1977, Fox moved on to the University of Houston and as a new Assistant Professor in Biochemical & Biophysical Sciences, continued to collaborate with Woese. This resulted in the 1980 publication of the “big tree”, the first comprehensive tree of bacterial relationships.[6][7] Fox also recognized the limitations that 16S rRNA sequences could provide when identifying closely related species and addressed the question of “How Close is Close?".[8]

He became a full professor there in 1986. His current research centers around understanding the early evolution of life with particular interest in the origin and evolution of the ribosome.[9][10] He has also assisted NASA scientists on multiple occasions in characterizing relevant microbial communities.[11]

See also[edit]

  • Three-domain system Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya

Books describing discovery of Archaea[edit]

1. Quammen , D.(2018).“The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life.” Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-1-4767-7662-0. 2. Sapp, J. (2009).“The New Foundations of Evolution,” Oxford University Press,ISBN 9780195388503.


  1. ^ Fox GE, Woese CR (August 1975). "5S rRNA Secondary Structure". Nature. 256 (5517): 505–507. Bibcode:1975Natur.256..505F. doi:10.1038/256505a0. PMID 808733. S2CID 4288247.
  2. ^ Woese CR, Fox GE (November 1977). "Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: the primary kingdoms". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 74 (11): 5088–5090. Bibcode:1977PNAS...74.5088W. doi:10.1073/pnas.74.11.5088. PMC 432104. PMID 2112744.
  3. ^ "Most important paper ever in microbiology? Woese & Fox, 1977, discovery of archaea". Jonathan Eisen's Lab. 6 April 2010.
  4. ^ "PNAS Classics | PNAS".
  5. ^ Woese CR, Fox GE (September 1977). "The concept of cellular evolution". J. Mol. Evol. 10 (1): 1–6. Bibcode:1977JMolE..10....1W. doi:10.1007/BF01796132. PMID 903983. S2CID 24613906.
  6. ^ Woese CR, Magrum L, Fox GE (August 1978). "Archaebacteria". J. Mol. Evol. 11 (3): 245–251. Bibcode:1978JMolE..11..245W. doi:10.1007/BF01734485. PMID 681075.
  7. ^ Fox GE, Stackebrandt, Hespel RB, Gibson J, Maniloff J, Dyer TA, Wolfe RS, Balch WE, Tanner RS, Magrum LJ, Zablen LB, Blakemore R, Gupta R, Bonen L, Lewis BJ, Stahl DA, Luehrsen KR, Chen KN, Woese CR (July 1980). "The phylogeny of procaryotes". Science. 209 (4455): 457–463. Bibcode:1980Sci...209..457F. doi:10.1126/science.6771870. PMID 6771870.
  8. ^ Fox GE, Wisotzkey J, Jurtshuk P (January 1992). "How close in close:16S rRNA sequence identity may not be sufficient to guarantee species identity". Int. J. Syst. Bacteriol. 42 (1): 166–170. doi:10.1099/00207713-42-1-166. PMID 1371061.
  9. ^ Fox GE (June 2010). "Origin and evolution of the ribosome". Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2 (9:a003483): a003483. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a003483. PMC 2926754. PMID 20534711.
  10. ^ Nair P (2012). "Woese and Fox: Life, rearranged". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 109 (4): 1019–1021. doi:10.1073/pnas.1120749109. PMC 3268309. PMID 22308527.
  11. ^ Sielaff AC, Urbaniak C, Mohan GB, Stepanov VG, Tran Q, Wood JM, Minich J, McDonald D, Mayer T, Knight R, Karouia, Fox GE, Venkateswaran K (April 2019). "Characterization of the total and viable bacterial and fungal communities associated with the International Space Station surfaces". Microbiome. 7 (1): 50. doi:10.1186/s40168-019-0666-x. PMC 6452512. PMID 30955503. S2CID 102349152.

External links[edit]

  • Search Results for author Fox George.E on PubMed.
  • [1] Google Scholar Profile
  • [2] Google Scholar
  • [3] at the University of Houston, Houston, Texas
  • [4] BBC News
  • [5] The Space Show Broadcast
  • [6] Fellow in the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL)
  • [7] Four Pioneering Scientists to Discuss “The Origins of the RNA World”
  • [8] The Library of Congress Astrobiology Chair Nathaniel Comfort Discusses the RNA World with Pioneering Scientists
  • [9] Most important paper ever in microbiology? Woese & Fox, 1977, Discovery of Archaea
  • [10] Details of Ribosome Structure, Function and History Aaron Gronstal, 2020, NASA Astrobiology Exobiology Program, Center for the Origin of Life (COOL)