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Page history last edited by gerryc 13 years, 2 months ago

C10. Existing cells are the products of evolution.


Student Outcome: C10.1

Understand that there is evidence that prokaryotic cells probably existed before eukaryotic cells.


  • Anaerobic bacteria: Scientists have fossil evidence of bacterial life on Earth ~3.8 billion years ago. At this time, the atmosphere of the Earth did not contain oxygen, and all life (bacterial cells) was anaerobic.


  • Photosynthetic bacteria: About ~3.2 billion years ago, fossil evidence of photosynthetic bacteria, or cyanobacteria, appears. These bacteria use the sun's energy to make sugar. Oxygen, released as a byproduct, began to accumulate in the atmosphere. However, oxygen is actually pretty toxic to cells, even our cells! As a result, anaerobic cells were now a disadvantage in an oxygen-containing atmosphere, and started to die out as oxygen levels increased.


  • Aerobic cells appear in the fossil record shortly after that (~2.5 Billion years ago). There cells were were able to use that 'toxic' oxygen and convert it into energy (ATP) and water. Organisms that could thrive in an oxygen-containing atmosphere were now 'best suited to the environment'.


Source: http://www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/N100/2k2endosymb.html


Go here (John Kyrk's site) for a brilliant summary of the development of the universe and life on Earth.


How about this - how a video showing the first 10 weeks of the development of the human faces also shows our evolutionary connection to fish!  Read on!


Here is another video on the links between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells


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Student Outcome: C10.2

Explain how the ancestry of most existing eukaryotic cells probably involved endosymbiotic events.



Source: http://biokompost.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/endosymbiosis.jpg


The Endosymbiotic Theory was first proposed by former Boston University Biologist Lynn Margulis in the 1960's and officially in her 1981 book "Symbiosis in Cell Evolution". Although now accepted as a well-supported theory, both she and the theory were ridiculed by mainstream biologists for a number of years. Thanks to her persistance, and the large volumes of data that support this hypothesis gathered by her and many other scientists over the last 30 years, biology can now offer a plausible explanation for the evolution of eukaryotes.


Dr. Margulis was doing reserarch on the origin of eukaryotic cells. She looked at all the data about prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and organelles. She proposed that the similarities between prokaryotes and organelles, together with their appearance in the fossil record, could best be explained by "endo-symbiosis".


[Endo = "within"]

[Endocytosis = (cyto = cell) a process of 'cell eating' - cells are engulfed, but then usually digested as food....]

[Endosymbiosis = cells are engulfed, but not digested...cells live together is a mutually benefitting relationship, or symbiosis]


Her hypothesis originally proposed that:


  • mitochondria are the result of endocytosis of aerobic bacteria
  • chloroplasts are the result of endocytosis of photosynthetic bacteria
  • in both cases by large anaerobic bacteria who would not otherwise be able to exist in an aerobic environment.
  • this arrangement became a mutually beneficial relationship for both cells (symbiotic).


Margulis' original hypothesis proposed that aerobic bacteria (that require oxygen) were ingested by anaerobic bacteria (poisoned by oxygen), and may each have had a survival advantage as long as they continued their partnership.


Each would have performed mutually benefiting functions from their symbiotic relationship. The aerobic bacteria would have handled the toxic oxygen for the anaerobic bacteria, and the anaerobic bacteria would ingested food and protected the aerobic "symbiote".


The result = a cell with a double-membrane bound organelle. The inner lipid bilayer would have been the bacterial cell's plasma membrane, and the ouler lipid bilayer came from the cell that engulfed it.


Source: Source: http://www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/N100/2k2endosymb.html


Nice, if wordy, video outlining the evidence for endosymbiosis

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Although not directly related, this Attenborough video (Living Together) shows lots of examples of cells of different species found together in one organism. For example, in the first segment (up to 4.44 minutes) he shows how algae live inside of coral. This is followed by another segment (to 8:00 minutes) that shows algae in the arms of jellyfish.



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