The trickster microbes that are shaking up the tree of life

The trickster microbes that are shaking up the tree of life

Together with some related microbes, they are prodding biologists to reconsider one of the greatest events in the history of life on Earth — the appearance of the eukaryotes, the group of organisms that includes all plants, animals, fungi and more. What’s at stake is a deeper understanding of the biological leap that produced eukaryotes: “The biggest thing that happened since the origin of life,” according to evolutionary biologist Patrick Keeling at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. For scientists half a century ago, life on Earth was split between two categories: eukaryotes, living things with cells that contain membrane-wrapped internal structures, such as a nucleus; and prokaryotes, single-celled organisms that generally lack internal membranes.

Source: www.nature.com

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