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Endosymbiotic theory

As cell biology developed in the twentieth century, it became clear that mitochondria were the organelles responsible for producing ATP using aerobic respiration. In the 1960s, American biologist Lynn Margulis developed endosymbiotic theory    , which states that eukaryotes may have been a product of one cell engulfing another, one living within another, and evolving over time until the separate cells were no longer recognizable as such. In 1967, Margulis introduced new work on the theory and substantiated her findings through microbiological evidence. Although Margulis’ work initially was met with resistance, this once-revolutionary hypothesis is now widely (but not completely) accepted, with work progressing on uncovering the steps involved in this evolutionary process and the key players involved. Much still remains to be discovered about the origins of the cells that now make up the cells in all living eukaryotes.

Broadly, it has become clear that many of our nuclear genes and the molecular machinery responsible for replication and expression appear closely related to those in Archaea. On the other hand, the metabolic organelles and genes responsible for many energy-harvesting processes had their origins in bacteria. Much remains to be clarified about how this relationship occurred; this continues to be an exciting field of discovery in biology. For instance, it is not known whether the endosymbiotic event that led to mitochondria occurred before or after the host cell had a nucleus. Such organisms would be among the extinct precursors of the last common ancestor of eukaryotes.


One of the major features distinguishing prokaryotes from eukaryotes is the presence of mitochondria. Eukaryotic cells may contain anywhere from one to several thousand mitochondria, depending on the cell’s level of energy consumption. Each mitochondrion measures 1 to 10 or greater micrometers in length and exists in the cell as an organelle that can be ovoid to worm-shaped to intricately branched ( [link] ). Mitochondria arise from the division of existing mitochondria; they may fuse together; and they may be moved around inside the cell by interactions with the cytoskeleton. However, mitochondria cannot survive outside the cell. As the atmosphere was oxygenated by photosynthesis, and as successful aerobic prokaryotes evolved, evidence suggests that an ancestral cell with some membrane compartmentalization engulfed a free-living aerobic prokaryote, specifically an alpha-proteobacterium, thereby giving the host cell the ability to use oxygen to release energy stored in nutrients. Alpha-proteobacteria are a large group of bacteria that includes species symbiotic with plants, disease organisms that can infect humans via ticks, and many free-living species that use light for energy. Several lines of evidence support that mitochondria are derived from this endosymbiotic event. Most mitochondria are shaped like alpha-proteobacteria and are surrounded by two membranes, which would result when one membrane-bound organism was engulfed into a vacuole by another membrane-bound organism. The mitochondrial inner membrane is extensive and involves substantial infoldings called cristae that resemble the textured, outer surface of alpha-proteobacteria. The matrix and inner membrane are rich with the enzymes necessary for aerobic respiration.

Questions & Answers

what is cell?
V.S.Nikhil Reply
The smallest structure and functional unit
Hydra reproduce through which process
Saint Reply
which is smallest organ in our body
pineal gland
Yh in the ears...
why you hand plam is sweating in everytime
who is the father of mycology
Sagar Reply
Heinrich Anton de Bary
describe the similarities and differences between cytokinesis mechanism found in animal cells versus in plant cells
hiro Reply
are humans beings considered to have the eukaryotic cells
success Reply
eukaryotes are organisms that possess cells with a nucleus enclosed in a membrane, humans, and all complex organisms are eukaryotes.
so humans and animals also have cell membranes.... cause I did this test prep and they said plants...I just want to be sure
and thank you for your reply it was helpful👍✌
eu= "perfect", "good", karyon= nut, amound, nucleus
you're welcome. Plants are also eukaryotes.
plants, like animals, possess a nucleus bound by a membrane.
similarities and differences between cytokinesis mechanism found in animal cell vs cell division
Raymark Reply
what is the name of a male flower?
Ikeomu Reply
staminate means flower containing only stamen
what is the definition of evolution in a population?
Homero Reply
the slow changing of a species to adapt to any changes in the environment or how it feeds/hunts. im not good at explaining things lol.
the organ which is sensitive to light in euglena
Fatimah Reply
the organ which is sensitive to light in euglena is
all chlorophyll containing motile cells are sensitive to light
there is no more other chapter
Sandeep Reply
Give tow examples for nutritional deficiency Diseases-
Singampalli Reply
How does a plant cell look like
Sang Reply
in a sleepers form
what do you mean ? I could not understand
they have a regular shape and a large vacoule
I thought it looked like rectangle
a stage in mitosis wherein in spindle fibers begin to shorten to pu the sister chromatids away from each other towards the opposite ends of the cell
Earl Reply
a stage in interphase where chromosome s are duplicated
What is biodiversity
Sp Reply
Name two secretions of Golgi apparatus
Daniel Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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