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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Jul 19;91(15):6721-8.

Tempo, mode, the progenote, and the universal root.

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Halifax, NS.


Early cellular evolution differed in both mode and tempo from the contemporary process. If modern lineages first began to diverge when the phenotype-genotype coupling was still poorly articulated, then we might be able to learn something about the evolution of that coupling through comparing the molecular biologies of living organisms. The issue is whether the last common ancestor of all life, the cenancestor, was a primitive entity, a progenote, with a more rudimentary genetic information-transfer system. Thinking on this issue is still unsettled. Much depends on the placement of the root of the universal tree and on whether or not lateral transfer renders such rooting meaningless.

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