PerspectiveEvolution

Better Oxygen Delivery

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Science  14 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6138, pp. 1293-1294
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240631

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Summary

The ability to use oxygen as the terminal acceptor of electrons in the cellular respiratory chain—a process that is substantially more efficient in generating energy from organic molecules than anaerobic alternatives—was a major evolutionary innovation that may have opened the doors for multicellular complexity (1, 2). At a given time in evolution, aerobic metabolism took the stage. Three studies in this issue, by Mirceta et al. (3) on page 1303, Natarajan et al. (4) on page 1324, and Rummer et al. (5) on page 1327, discuss how myoglobin and hemoglobin, respiratory pigments responsible for oxygen uptake, transport, and storage have evolved in vertebrates to meet the demands of different lifestyles.