Evolution

Finding the organelles' ancestors

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Science  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6274, pp. 676-678
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6274.676-s

In contrast to bacteria and archaea, eukaryotic cells contain organelles called mitochondria that generate chemical energy; plant cells also contain plastids, the sites of photosynthesis. In a Perspective, Ball et al. highlight recent research into how these organelles arose. The likely ancestors of mitochondria were pathogens that learned to survive within their archaeal host cells. Plastids have a more complex history that probably involved three partners: mitochondrion-containing unicellular eukaryotic host cell, a cyanobacterium, and a pathogen that helped the latter to survive in the host. Once these organelles became established, the scene was set for the evolution of multicellular life.

Science, this issue p. 659

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