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In Search of Cell HistoryThe Evolution of Life's Building Blocks$
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Franklin M. Harold

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226174143

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226174310.001.0001

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A World Mostly Made Up of Microbes

A World Mostly Made Up of Microbes

Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya

(p.35) Chapter Three A World Mostly Made Up of Microbes
In Search of Cell History

Franklin M. Harold

University of Chicago Press

The world seems to hold only three kinds of cells, three cellular designs: Eukarya, Bacteria and Archaea. This chapter attempts to define their essential characteristics. A central theme is the discovery, utterly unexpected at the time, that “prokaryotes” conflates two distinct modes of organization that become apparent only at the molecular level. The evidence that supports the separation of Archaea from Bacteria, and the affinity of the Archaea with the Eukarya, is considered in some detail. Attention is given to organisms that seem to straddle the border between domains, notably the planctomycetes, Bacteria whose internal organization is reminiscent of eukaryotic cells. The chapter concludes with viruses, which have no home on the universal tree but are clearly related to it. Viruses may represent an ancient line of molecular evolution, distinct from but intertwined with, that of cells.

Keywords:   bacteria, Archaea, Eukarya, planctomycetes, viruses

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