Chapter

The Vampire Slug of the Killer Alga

Alexandre Meinesz

in How Life Began

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226519319
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226519333 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226519333.003.0005
The Vampire Slug of the Killer Alga

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This chapter explains the genesis of animal and plant cells. The ancestors of animal and plant cells were bacteria that became associated with smaller bacteria (destined to become mitochondria, which became, as it were, the lungs of the cell). These soft-bodied ancestors became carnivores. By gene transfer and an increase in the number of genes (through fusion with their sister cells), they were endowed with pairs of chromosomes concentrated in a nucleus. They became unicellular animals that reproduced sexually. Among these, certain ones fed on diverse plant-like bacteria that ended by being included in the carnivorous cells as chloroplasts. This series of associations gave rise to various lineages of chlorophyll-containing plants. Others of these carnivorous bacteria, which were more voracious, became cannibals and ingested and tamed the prototypical animals and plants, partly domesticating them. These gave rise to other animal and plant lineages. Among all these lineages, certain ones probably co-opted mobile, strip-shaped bacteria that became their means of propulsion (cilia and flagella).

Keywords: genesis; animal cells; plant cells; gene transfer; chromosomes; unicellular animals; chloroplasts; cilia; flagella

Chapter.  9970 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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