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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

New Discovery of How Eukaryotes originated from Prokaryotes

From Cell to Man (Image: Cosmology)

Origin of life is known to exist about 2billion years ago from simplest organisms like single celled bacteria and archaea. Eukaryotes which are complex life forms known to originate from these tiny organisms. This evolutionary leap is considered to be an important step in the history behind origin of life. But the question about these complex cells arise from simple single celled microbes still remained mystery.

A recent study that published in the journal Nature provided new insights about how the deemed 'marvel microbes' shed light over evolutionary transition from simple to complex life forms.

Dr. Thijs Ettema from Uppsala University in Sweden who led the study mentioned The Huffington Post, "“Our new paper tells what our microbial ancestors might have looked like. We humans are eukaryotes, and our cells are big and complex. In contrast, the cells of bacteria and archaea are tiny and simple. The main question is how the big and complex cells of eukaryotes have evolved from the smaller and simpler prokaryotic cells.”

Asgard archaea (named after Norse gods) form a group with the eukaryotes.  (Image: Nature)

The research findings are based on the work framed by Carl Woose who had shown that eukaryotes origated from Archaea. Here a new type of archaea called the Asgard archaea fall in one of the four known lineages named after Norse gods (view figure). They are usually seen in ocean floor, sea beds, lakes and hot springs. Interestingly even though Asgard is prokarote it has several eukaryotic genes in their genome and this provides a deep insight about how eukaryotes originated from simplest life forms.

“They (Asgard archaea) represent a sister group of eukaryotes in the tree of life,” Etterma said. “In addition to that, their genomes contain a lot of important eukaryotic genes. Altogether, the discovery of these Asgard archaea tells us that eukaryotes, and hence humans as well, share a common ancestry.”



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