Predation between prokaryotes and the origin of eukaryotes

Yaacov Davidov, Edouard Jurkevitch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Accumulating data suggest that the eukaryotic cell originated from a merger of two prokaryotes, an archaeal host and a bacterial endosymbiont. However, since prokaryotes are unable to perform phagocytosis, the means by which the endosymbiont entered its host is an enigma. We suggest that a predatory or parasitic interaction between prokaryotes provides a reasonable explanation for this conundrum. According to the model presented here, the host in this interaction was an anaerobic archaeon with a periplasm-like space. The predator was a small (facultative) aerobic α- proteobacterium, which penetrated and replicated within the host periplasm, and later became the mitochondria. Plausible conditions under which this in teraction took place and circumstances that may have led to the contemporary complex eukaryotic cell are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)748-757
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009


  • Eukaryotic origin
  • Mitochondrial origin
  • Predatory bacteria


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