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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Jun;12(6):449-55. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3271. Epub 2014 May 12.

The hybrid nature of the Eukaryota and a consilient view of life on Earth.

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Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution Unit, Department of Biology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland.
Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution Group, School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Glasnevin, Dublin 9, Ireland.
School of Biological Sciences and School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK.


The origin of the eukaryotic cell, which is known as eukaryogenesis, has puzzled scientists for more than 100 years, and many hypotheses have been proposed. Recent analyses of new data enable the safe elimination of some of these hypotheses, whereas support for other hypotheses has increased. In this Opinion article, we evaluate the available theories for their compatibility with empirical observations and conclude that cellular life consists of two primary, paraphyletic prokaryotic groups and one secondary, monophyletic group that has symbiogenic origins - the eukaryotes.

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