Research NewsEvolution

Did the First Complex Cell Eat Hydrogen?

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Science  13 Mar 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5357, pp. 1633-1634
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5357.1633

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The mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles of complex cells, are believed to have once been free-living bacteria that were simply eaten by an ancestral cell. But in last week's issue of Nature, researchers argue that the first complex cell, or eukaryote, was a partnership between two mutually dependent microbes. The host cell was a methanogen, a microbe that consumes hydrogen and carbon dioxide and produces methane, and the future mitochondrion was a bacterium that made hydrogen and carbon dioxide as waste products.