Here is a series of articles that, in my opinion, are required reading in evolutionary biology and others that I have found interesting to read. This does not represent an exhaustive list, over time I will expand it

"Homology" in proteins and nucleic acids: A terminology muddle and way out of it 

Gerald R.Reeck, Christoph de Haën, David C. Teller, Russell F.Doolittle, Walter M.Fitch, Richard E. Dickerson, Pierre Chambon, Andrew D.McLachlan, Emanuel Margoliash, Thomas H. Jukes & Emile Zuckerkandl. Cell 1987, 50: 667. Link


This comment clarifies the difference between homology and similarity in DNA or protein sequences. Additionally, it describes three situations in which hazards arise by using homology to mean similarity

Ueber die chemische Zusammensetzung der Eiterzellen

Friedrich Miescher. Medicinisch-chemische Untersuchungen 1871, 4:441.  Link


This is the original article in which Friedrich Miescher reports the isolation of the Nuclein, also known as DNA

The Significance of Pneumococcal Types

Frederick Griffith. Journal of Hygiene 1928, 27:113.  Link


This is a classical article in biology that was the seed to understand that DNA is the molecule of heredity

Studies on the chemical nature of the substance inducing transformation of pneumococcal types : induction of transformation by a desoxyribonucleic acid fraction isolated from pneumococcus type III

Oswald T. Avery, Colin M. Macleod & Maclyn McCarty. Journal of Experimental Medicine 1944, 79:137. Link


This is also a classical article in biology that demonstrates that DNA is the molecule of heredity. The single conclusion of the articles was “The evidence presented supports the belief that a nucleic acid of the deoxyribose type is the fundamental unit of the transforming principle of Pneumococcus Type III”


This was a work of years and one of the most important of the 20th century, mainly due to its universality. Without a doubt he was worthy of the Nobel Prize, a prize he never received, despite having been nominated 37 times in the medicine category and once in chemistry. His main nominator was the scientist Otto Loewi. I have no doubt that the Nobel Foundation missed the opportunity to have Oswald T. Avery among its laureates.


If you are interested in the history of this discovery, I recommend the book titled “The Transforming Principle: Discovering that Genes Are Made of DNA” written by one of the protagonists of the discovery, Maclyn McCarty

Independent functions of viral protein and nucleic acid in growth of bacteriophage

Alfred Day Hershey & Martha Chase. Journal of General Physiology 1952. 36:39. Link


They showed additional evidence that DNA is the molecule of heredity. They showed that when a virus infects a bacteria, it injects its DNA, not its proteins, which serves to make more copies of it. With this evidence, the scientific community of the time was more open to accepting that DNA is the hereditary material

Nucleotide sequence of the gene coding for the bacteriophage MS2 coat protein

Willy Min-Jou W, Guy Haegeman, Marc Ysebaert & Walter Fiers. Nature 1972, 237:82. Link


In this article, the authors sequenced an entire gene for the very first time 

Why genes in pieces

Walter Gilbert. Nature 1978, 271:501. Link


In this article, Walter Gilbert suggests the names intron and exon

On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species

Alfred R. Wallace. Annals and Magazine of Natural history 1855, 16: 184. Link


In this fabulous article, Wallace proposes the following law "Every species has come into existence coincident both in space and time with a pre–existing closely allied species".

And see this fantastic way of thinking regarding rudimentary organs: "To every thoughtful naturalist the question must arise, What are these for? What have they to do with the great laws of creation? Do they not teach us something of the system of Nature? If each species has been created independently, and without any necessary relations with pre–existing species, what do these rudiments, these apparent imperfections mean? There must be a cause for them; they must be the necessary results of some great natural law"

Distinguishing homologous from analogous proteins

Walter M. Fitch. Systematic Biology 1970, 19: 99. Link


This work provides a means by which it is possible to determine whether two groups of related proteins have a common ancestor or are of independent origin, including the definition of orthology and paralogy

Fitting the gene lineage into its species lineage, a parsimony strategy Illustrated by cladograms constructed from globin sequences

Morris Goodman, John Czelusniak, G. William Moore, A. E. Romero-Herrera & Genji Matsuda. Systematic Zoology 1979, 28: 132. Link


In this work, Morris Goodman et al. show how the duplicative history of genes can be inferred by comparing gene trees with species trees

New perspectives in the molecular biological analysis of mammalian phylogeny

Morris Goodman, C.B. Olson, J.E. Beeber & John Czelusniak. Acta Zoologica Fennica 1982, 169: 19. Link


This work represents the seminal paper in which the famous Goodman-Bremer support methodology is described

Embryonic epsilon and gamma globin genes of a prosimian primate (Galago crassicaudatus). Nucleotide and amino acid sequences, developmental regulation and phylogenetic footprints

Danilo A. Tagle, Benn F. Koop, Morris Goodman, Jerry L. Slightom, David L. Hess, Richard T. Jones. Journal of Molecular Biology 1988, 203: 439. Link


In this work, Tagle et al. introduce the term “phylogenetic footprinting” to describe the phylogenetic comparisons that reveal conserved cis- elements in the non-coding regions of homologous genes.

On Some Principles Governing Molecular Evolution

Motoo Kimura & Tomoko Ohta. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1974, 71: 2848. Link


As the title mentions, in this work Motoo Kimura and Tomoko Ohta describe five basic principles of molecular evolution

The role of immunochemical differences in the phyletic development of human behavior

Morris Goodman. Human Biology. 1961, 33: 131. Link


In this work, Morris Goodman outlines the idea that neutral mutations could be abundant in nature

Evolution at two levels in humans and chimpanzees

Mary-Claire King & Allan C. Wilson. Science 1975, 188: 107. Link


In a work, which can be considered a classic in biology, Mary-Claire King and Allan C. Wilson propose that the differences in observable characteristics between humans and chimpanzees would be due mainly to changes in the mechanisms that control the expression of the genes rather than in the sequence of the genes themselves.

Here I transcribe the text directly from the scientific work:We suggest that evolutionary changes in anatomy and way of life are more often based on changes in the mechanisms controlling the expression of genes than on sequence changes in proteins. We therefore propose that regulatory mutations account for the major biological differences between humans and chimpanzees

Chemical paleogenetics: molecular “restoration studies” of extinct forms of life

Linus Pauling & Emile Zuckerkandl. Acta Chemica Scandinavica 1963, 17: 9. Link


This work represents a seminal paper on ancestral sequence protein reconstruction history. The authors present a tentative partial structure for two ancestral hemoglobin polypeptide chains.


Possible Relation between Deoxyribonucleic Acid and Protein Structures

George Gamow. Nature 1954, 173: 318. Link


Positive selection causes purifying selection

Morris Goodman. Nature 1982, 295: 630. Link


Natural selection and elimination

C. Lloyd Morgan. Nature 1888, 38: 370. Link


Enzyme polymorphisms in man

Harry Harries. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 1966, 164: 298. Link


A molecular approach to the study of genic heterozygosity in natural populations. II. Amount of variation and degree of heterozygosity in natural populations of Drosophila pseudoobscura

Richard C. Lewontin & John L. Hubby. Genetics 1966, 54: 595. Link


Primary structure and evolution of cytochrome c

Emanuel Margoliash. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1963, 50: 672. Link


Amino-acid sequence investigations of fibrinopeptides from various mammals: evolutionary implications

Russell F. Doolittle & Birger Blombäck . Nature. 1964, 202: 147. Link


Evolutionary divergence and convergence in proteins

Emile Zuckerkandl & Linus Pauling . Evolving Genes and Proteins. 1965, 97 Link


Evolutionary rate at the molecular level

Motoo Kimura . Nature. 1968, 217: 624. Link


Non-Darwinian evolution

Jack L. King & Thomas H. Jukes . Science. 1969, 164: 788. Link