Endosymbioses and Evolution
There is a lot to be gained from attempting to divorce oneself from the past while looking forward at cell biological problems with modern data, and there is clearly much about the evolution of the eukaryotic cell that still needs to be worked out .
Scientific definition of the symbiosis: The term “symbiosis”, firstly defined as “the living together of unlike organisms”, is in fact broadly applied to all the spectrum of beneficial, neutral, or harmful relationships .
Symbioses include intracellular bacteria in eukaryotic hosts (the core knowledge of ENDOBIOS), which remain largely unseen due to the lack of clear phenotypes and tractable experimental systems [3-6].
Fast facts on bacteria:
- It is estimated that 99% of all bacterial species are unculturable, a paradigm known as the great plate count anomaly , much related to genome reduction with lack of genes essential for free-living .
- With a global diversity estimated between 100 million to 10 billion species , bacteria have an outstanding genetic diversity spread throughout 92 Phyla, with more than half of them remaining without a single culturable representative .
- Unculturable bacteria represent a current major challenge in microbiology . Access to the still neglected bacteria that reside on humans (for example our gut microbiota) and discovering their functionalities is expected to provide new ways to improve health .
Fast facts on symbioses:
- The first ever found fossil record of Life on Earth were already complex symbiotic communities of bacteria – the stromatolites. Since the oldest known fossil record on Earth – the ca. 3.5 Ga (billion years) old stromatolites from Australia -, prokaryotes are known to co-exist in complex symbiotic communities that engaged in important ecological interactions for billions of years .
- Ancient microbial stromatolitic complexes dominated Life for 80% of Earth’s history .
- Intimate symbioses still endure today, e.g. in cyanobacterial hosts and their symbiotic bacteria , algae  and plants .
- In sponges, the most primitive form of animal life, symbiotic microbes can constitute up to 60% of their biomass [16, 17].
To have a glance on our 10+ years’ experience in the field of endosymbioses, read Almeida et al., 2018 . Importantly, the majority of the ENDOBIOS know-how is yet unpublished.
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- Almeida, C., et al., Appl Environ Microbiol, 2018. 84, 15, e00660-18