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Origin of the Eukaryotic cell: Part I – How to train your endosymbiont

Posted December 5, 2014

“The origin and evolution of eukaryotes” is a tale that has yet to be told. At this point in time, it exists only as the title of a fascinating new compendium that has just been produced by the Cold Spring Harbor Press. While this volume is some 400 pages long, there is a palpable feeling among its authors that if they could somehow just compact it into a few pages, a figure, and perhaps even a token energy equation, then what is now just a diffuse description would become the explanation we seek—maybe even without any new discoveries or information.

Origin of the Eukaryotic cell:  Part I - How to train your endosymbiont
Credit: Cold Spring Harbor Press


The nearest the book comes to providing that holy explanation is undoubtedly the chapter by Thomas Cavalier-Smith dealing with what he likes to call the “Neomuran Revolution,” which we will describe below. At its heart, what Cavalier-Smith offers is a sweeping tree of life that has continued to grow with the abundant fertilizer he has added over the last several decades. Incidentaly, we should add that one of the best ways to expedite your ascendance to prominance in the origin of life business is to simply expand your last name with – Smith. Both Graham Cairns-Smith and John Maynard Smith were masters at this and their work continues to shape the field.

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