Were eukaryotes made by sex? Sex might have been vital for merging endosymbiont and host genomes giving rise to eukaryotes

Michael Brandeis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

I hypothesize that the appearance of sex facilitated the merging of the endosymbiont and host genomes during early eukaryote evolution. Eukaryotes were formed by symbiosis between a bacterium that entered an archaeon, eventually giving rise to mitochondria. This entry was followed by the gradual transfer of most bacterial endosymbiont genes into the archaeal host genome. I argue that the merging of the mitochondrial genes into the host genome was vital for the evolution of genuine eukaryotes. At the time this process commenced it was unprecedented and required a novel mechanism. I suggest that this mechanism was meiotic sex, and that its appearance might have been THE crucial step that enabled the evolution of proper eukaryotes from early endosymbiont containing proto-eukaryotes. Sex might continue to be essential today for keeping genome insertions in check. Also see the video abstract here: https://youtu.be/aVMvWMpomac.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2000256
JournalBioEssays
Volume43
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC

Keywords

  • endosymbiosis
  • eukaryogenesis
  • evolution of sex
  • meiosis
  • mitochondrial DNA

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