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Endosymbiosis

Authors
Journal
Current Biology
0960-9822
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
22
Issue
14
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.06.010
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Ecology

Abstract

Summary The phenomenon of endosymbiosis, or one organism living within another, has deeply impacted the evolution of life and continues to shape the ecology of countless species. Traditionally, biologists have viewed evolution as a largely bifurcating pattern, reflecting mutations and other changes in existing genetic information and the occasional speciation and divergence of lineages. While lineage bifurcation has clearly been important in evolution, the merging of two lineages through endosymbiosis has also made profound contributions to evolutionary novelty. Mitochondria and chloroplasts are relicts of ancient bacterial endosymbionts that ultimately extended the range of acceptable habitats for life by allowing hosts to thrive in the presence of oxygen and to convert light into energy. Today, the sheer abundance of endosymbiotic relationships across diverse host lineages and habitats testifies to their continued significance.

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