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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jun 25;99(13):8742-7. Epub 2002 Jun 19.

On the evolution of cells.

Author information

  • Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 601 South Goodwin Avenue, B103 Chemical and Life Sciences Laboratory, Urbana, IL 61801-3709, USA. carl@phylo.life.uiuc.edu

Abstract

A theory for the evolution of cellular organization is presented. The model is based on the (data supported) conjecture that the dynamic of horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is primarily determined by the organization of the recipient cell. Aboriginal cell designs are taken to be simple and loosely organized enough that all cellular componentry can be altered and/or displaced through HGT, making HGT the principal driving force in early cellular evolution. Primitive cells did not carry a stable organismal genealogical trace. Primitive cellular evolution is basically communal. The high level of novelty required to evolve cell designs is a product of communal invention, of the universal HGT field, not intralineage variation. It is the community as a whole, the ecosystem, which evolves. The individual cell designs that evolved in this way are nevertheless fundamentally distinct, because the initial conditions in each case are somewhat different. As a cell design becomes more complex and interconnected a critical point is reached where a more integrated cellular organization emerges, and vertically generated novelty can and does assume greater importance. This critical point is called the "Darwinian Threshold" for the reasons given.

PMID:
12077305
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC124369
Free PMC Article

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