Microbiology

Ancestor Intercourse

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Science  14 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6172, pp. 711
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6172.711-a
CREDIT: L. PEACOCK ET AL., CURRENT BIOLOGY 24, 2 (2 JANUARY 2014) © 2014 ELSEVIER INC.

Trypanosomes (notably including the sleeping sickness parasites) have long been thought to be primitive protist oddities with strange biochemistries. Recent evidence from Peacock et al. shows that, just like the majority of eukaryotes, trypanosomes have sex. Starting from observations on the expression of meiosis-specific genes in trypanosomes within the salivary glands of the tsetse fly vector, distinctively shaped cells—putative gametes—were found. Subsequently, the cells were observed to intertwine flagella, squirm, and form intimate pairs. Labeling with different-colored fluorescent proteins revealed that membrane and cytoplasmic fusion occurred (although formal proof is still required for nuclear and kinetoplastid DNA exchange), hence confirming that even the most ancestral eukaryotes indulge in sexual reproduction.

Curr. Biol. 24, 181 (2014).

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