PerspectiveEvolutionary Biology

Evolving new organisms via symbiosis

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 392-394
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa9605

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Symbiotic partnerships are a major source of evolutionary innovation. They have driven rapid diversification of organisms, allowed hosts to harness new forms of energy, and radically modified Earth's nutrient cycles. The application of next-generation sequencing and advanced microscopic techniques has revealed not only the ubiquity of symbiotic partnerships, but the extent to which partnerships can become physically, genomically, and metabolically integrated (1). When and why does this integration of once free-living organisms happen?