Gray MW, Burger G, Lang BF
Category: evolution, mitochondrial DNA ¤ Added: Feb 12, 2008 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
The serial endosymbiosis theory is a favored model for explaining the origin of mitochondria, a defining event in the evolution of eukaryotic cells. As usually described, this theory posits that mitochondria are the direct descendants of a bacterial endosymbiont that became established at an early stage in a nucleus-containing (but amitochondriate) host cell. Gene sequence data strongly support a monophyletic origin of the mitochondrion from a eubacterial ancestor shared with a subgroup of the alpha-Proteobacteria. However, recent studies of unicellular eukaryotes (protists), some of them little known, have provided insights that challenge the traditional serial endosymbiosis-based view of how the eukaryotic cell and its mitochondrion came to be. These data indicate that the mitochondrion arose in a common ancestor of all extant eukaryotes and raise the possibility that this organelle originated at essentially the same time as the nuclear component of the eukaryotic cell rather than in a separate, subsequent event.