The Emergence of Predators in Early Life: There was No Garden of Eden

dc.contributor.authorde Nooijer, Silvester
dc.contributor.authorHolland, Barbara R.
dc.contributor.authorPenny, David
dc.descriptionFunding: This work was supported by the New Zealand Centers of Research Excellence Fund. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.en_US
dc.description.abstractBackground: Eukaryote cells are suggested to arise somewhere between 0.85 similar to 2.7 billion years ago. However, in the present world of unicellular organisms, cells that derive their food and metabolic energy from larger cells engulfing smaller cells (phagocytosis) are almost exclusively eukaryotic. Combining these propositions, that eukaryotes were the first phagocytotic predators and that they arose only 0.85 similar to 2.7 billion years ago, leads to an unexpected prediction of a long period (similar to 1-3 billion years) with no phagocytotes - a veritable Garden of Eden. Methodology: We test whether such a long period is reasonable by simulating a population of very simple unicellular organisms - given only basic physical, biological and ecological principles. Under a wide range of initial conditions, cellular specialization occurs early in evolution; we find a range of cell types from small specialized primary producers to larger opportunistic or specialized predators. Conclusions: Both strategies, specialized smaller cells and phagocytotic larger cells are apparently fundamental biological strategies that are expected to arise early in cellular evolution. Such early predators could have been 'prokaryotes', but if the earliest cells on the eukaryote lineage were predators then this explains most of their characteristic features.en_US
dc.identifier.citationde Nooijer, S., Holland, B. R., & Penny, D. (2009). The Emergence of Predators in Early Life: There was No Garden of Eden. Plos One, 4(6), e5507. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005507en_US
dc.publisherPLoS Oneen_US
dc.relation.isbasedonPLoS Oneen_US
dc.rights2009 de Nooijer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
dc.subjectCellular evolutionen_US
dc.subjectEukaryote cellsen_US
dc.subjectUnicellular organismsen_US
dc.subject.otherFields of Research::270000 Biological Sciences::270200 Genetics::270208 Molecular evolutionen_US
dc.titleThe Emergence of Predators in Early Life: There was No Garden of Edenen_US
dc.typeJournal Articleen_US
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