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Trends Ecol Evol. 1998 Dec 1;13(12):493-7.

Changing perspectives on the origin of eukaryotes.

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Dept of Biological Sciences, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063, USA, and is a member of the program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


From the initial application of molecular techniques to the study of microbial organisms, three domains of life emerged, with eukaryotes and archaea as sister taxa. However, recent analyses of an expanding molecular data set reveal that the eukaryotic genome is chimeric with respect to archaea and bacteria. Moreover, there is now evidence that the primitive eukaryotic group `Archezoa' once harbored mitochondia. These discoveries have challenged the traditional stepwise model of the evolution of eukaryotes, in which the nucleus and microtubules evolve before the acquisition of mitochondria, and consequently compel a revision of existing models of the origin of eukaryotic cells.


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