Friday, January 27, 2017

Evolution of the Eukaryotic Cell

         The article by James McInerney and May O'Connell discusses the results of a study conducted by a team consisting of over 10 individuals from countries around the globe. Their research uncovered a group of archaea that may help link eukaryotic cells too their prokaryotic ancestors. They named this new superphylum Asgard. The Asgard group is not officially recognized but the team is confident that their analyses support its existence.

         Research done several decades ago indicated that there were groups of archaea that had yet to be discovered, located within ocean sediments. The research team used this as their basis and collected sediments from several locations around the world. They then sequenced over 644 billion nucleotides from the mixture of organisms present in the samples. This sequencing revealed ribosomal gene similarities to the groups of archaea known as Lokiarchaeota, Thorarchaeota, Odinarchaeota, and Heimdallarchaeota.
         The group Lokiarchaeota was previously the closest link between eukaryotic cells and Prokaryotic cells we had discovered. This research is important to understanding the theory of a cellular merger that created the first eukaryotic cells. Members of the Asgard group contain types of genes that were believed to have originated early in eukaryotic evolution. I believe this research is not only exciting but important. We are getting closer and closer to understanding the origins of complex life, giving us insight into not only our planet but also life on other planets.

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