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J Cell Sci. 2016 Oct 15;129(20):3695-3703. Epub 2016 Sep 26.

The changing view of eukaryogenesis - fossils, cells, lineages and how they all come together.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2H7.
School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 5EH, UK.
Department of Earth and Space Science and Astrobiology Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-1310, USA.
Centre for Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Bioinformatics, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2.
Institut Pasteur, Département de Microbiologie, Unité de Biologie Moleculaire du Gene chez les Extremophiles, rue du Dr Roux, Paris 75015, France.
Université de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, CNRS, UMR5558, Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, 43 Boulevard du 11 Novembre 1918, Villeurbanne F-69622, France.
Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo (CABD), Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Seville 41013, Spain


Eukaryogenesis - the emergence of eukaryotic cells - represents a pivotal evolutionary event. With a fundamentally more complex cellular plan compared to prokaryotes, eukaryotes are major contributors to most aspects of life on Earth. For decades, we have understood that eukaryotic origins lie within both the Archaea domain and α-Proteobacteria. However, it is much less clear when, and from which precise ancestors, eukaryotes originated, or the order of emergence of distinctive eukaryotic cellular features. Many competing models for eukaryogenesis have been proposed, but until recently, the absence of discriminatory data meant that a consensus was elusive. Recent advances in paleogeology, phylogenetics, cell biology and microbial diversity, particularly the discovery of the 'Candidatus Lokiarcheaota' phylum, are now providing new insights into these aspects of eukaryogenesis. The new data have allowed the time frame during which eukaryogenesis occurred to be finessed, a more precise identification of the contributing lineages and the biological features of the contributors to be clarified. Considerable advances have now been used to pinpoint the prokaryotic origins of key eukaryotic cellular processes, such as intracellular compartmentalisation, with major implications for models of eukaryogenesis.


Archaea; Archaeogenesis; Chemical fossil; Endosymbiosis; Eukaryogenesis; Evolution; First eukaryotic common ancestor; Last eukaryotic common ancestor; Molecular dating; Molecular fossil

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