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Biosystems. 1993;31(2-3):121-5.

Origins of species: acquired genomes and individuality.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003.
  • 2U MA, Amherst


Entire genomes with their accompanying protein synthetic systems are transferred throughout the biosphere primarily as bacteria and protists which become symbionts as they irreversibly integrate into pre-existing organisms to form more complex individuals. Individualization is stabilized by simultaneous transmission of once-separate heterologous genetic systems. The origin of new species is hypothesized to correlate with the acquisition, integration and subsequent inheritance of such acquired microbial genomes. These processes were recognized by Mereschkovsky ("Symbiogenesis" in Russian, 1909) and by Wallin ("Symbionticism", see p. 181, this issue).

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