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Origin and Evolution of Eukaryotes

Subject Area(s):  Molecular BiologyOrigin and Evolution of Life

Edited by Patrick J. Keeling, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Botany Department University of British Columbia; Eugene V. Koonin, Senior Investigator, NCBI, NLM, NIH

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© 2014 • 416 pp., illus. (47 color, 12 B&W), index
Hardcover •
ISBN  978-1-621820-28-4

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All protists, fungi, animals, and plants on Earth are eukaryotes. Their cells possess membrane-bound organelles including a nucleus and mitochondria, distinct cytoskeletal features, and a unique chromosome structure that permits them to undergo mitosis or meiosis. The emergence of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic ancestors about 2 billion years ago was a pivotal evolutionary transition in the history of life on Earth. But the change was abrupt, and few clues exist as to the nature of the intermediate stages.

Written and edited by experts in the field, this collection from Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology examines evolutionary scenarios that likely led to the emergence and rapid evolution of eukaryotes. Contributors review the mechanisms, timing, and consequences of endosymbiosis, as well as molecular and biochemical characteristics of archaea and bacteria that may have contributed to the first eukaryotic lineage. They explore all of the available evidence, including clues from the fossil record and comparative genomics, and formulate ideas about the origin of genomic characteristics (e.g., chromatin and introns) and specific cellular features (e.g., the endomembrane system) in eukaryotes. Topics such as the origins of multicellularity and sex are also covered.

This volume includes discussion of multiple evolutionary models that warrant serious attention, as well as lively debate on some of the most contentious topics in the field. It will thus be fascinating reading for evolutionary biologists, cell and molecular biologists, paleobiologists, and all who are interested in the history of life on Earth.


How Natural a Kind is “Eukaryote”?
W. Ford Doolittle
The Impact of History on Our Perception of Evolutionary Events: Endosymbiosis and the Origin of Eukaryotic Complexity
Patrick J. Keeling
Symbiosis as a General Principle in Eukaryotic Evolution
Angela E. Douglas
The Neomuran Revolution and Phagotrophic Origin of Eukaryotes in the Light of Intracellular Coevolution and a Revised Tree of Life
Thomas Cavalier-Smith
Bioenergetic Constraints on the Evolution of Complex Life
Nick Lane
The Archaeal Legacy of Eukaryotes: A Phylogenomic Perspective
Lionel Guy, Jimmy H. Saw, and Thijs J. G. Ettema
The Dispersed Archael Eukaryome and the Complex Archaeal Ancestor of Eukaryotes
Eugene V. Koonin and Natalya Yutin
How and When Was the Mitochondrion Acquired?
Anthony M. Poole and Simonetta Gribaldo
What Was the Real Contribution of Endosymbionts to the Eukaryotic Nucleus? Insights from Photosynthetic Eukaryotes
David Moreira and Philippe Deschamps
Paleobiological Perspectives on Early Eukaryotic Evolution
Andrew H. Knoll
On the Age of Eukaryotes: Evaluating Evidence from Fossils and Molecular Clocks
Laure Eme, Susan C. Sharpe, Matthew W. Brown, and Andrew J. Roger
The Eukaryotic Tree of Life from a Global Phylogenomic Perspective
Fabien Burki
Origin and Evolution of the Self-Organizing Cytoskeleton in the Network of Eukaryotic Organelles
Gáspár Jékely
Missing Pieces of an Ancient Puzzle: Evolution of the Eukaryotic Membrane-Trafficking System
Alexander Schlacht, Emily K. Herman, Mary J. Klute, Mark C. Field, and Joel B. Dacks
Protein Targeting and Transport as a Necessary Consequence of Increased Cellular Complexity
Maik S. Sommer and Enrico Schleiff
The Pre-Endosymbiont Hypothesis: A New Perspective on the Origin and Evolution of Mitochondria
Michael W. Gray
Origin and Evolution of Plastids and Photosynthesis in Eukaryotes
Geoffrey I. McFadden
Protein and DNA Modifications: Evolutionary Imprints of Bacterial Biochemical Diversification and Geochemistry on the Provenance of Eukaryotic Epigenetics
L. Aravind, A. Maxwell Burroughs, Dapeng Zhang, and Lakshminarayan M. Iyer
Origin of Spliceosomal Introns and Alternative Splicing
Manual Irimia and Scott William Roy
The Persistent Contributions of RNA to Eukaryotic Gen(om)e Architecture and Cellular Function
Jürgen Brosius
Origins of Eukaryotic Sexual Reproduction
Ursula Goodenough and Joseph Heitman
Green Algae and the Origin of Multicellularity in the Plant Kingdom
James G. Umen
Bacterial Influences on Animal Origins
Rosanna A. Alegado and Nicole King