The universal ancestor: An unfinished reconstruction


Abstract


The cenancestor is defined as the last common ancestor of every currently living being. Its nature has been inferred from the identification of homologous genes between archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotic lineages. These inferences indicate that the cenancestor had a relatively modern protein translation system, similar in complexity to that of a current cell. However, the key enzymes for the replication of genetic material and for cell membrane biosynthesis are not homologous in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. Here, we briefly review the history of the concept of the last universal common ancestor and the different hypotheses proposed for its biology.


Keywords


universal phylogeny; LUCA; horizontal transference; early evolution; common ancestor

Full Text:

PDF

References


  • Agol, V. I. (2010). Which came first, the virus or the cell? Paleontological Journal, 44(7), 728–736. doi: 10.1134/S0031030110070038

  • Chatton, E. (1938). Titre et travaux scientifiques (1906–1937) de Edouard Chatton. Sète: Sottano.

  • Darwin, Ch. (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. London: John Murray.

  • Fitch, W. M., & Upper, K. (1987). The phylogeny of tRNA sequences provides evidence of ambiguity reduction in the origin of the genetic code. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, 52, 759–767. doi: 10.1101/SQB.1987.052.01.085

  • Koonin, E. V., & Dolja, V. V. (2013). A virocentric perspective on the evolution of life. Current Opinion in Virology, 3, 546–557. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2013.06.008

  • Lazcano, A., Fox, G. E., & Oró, J. (1992). Life before DNA: The origin and evolution of early Archean cells. In R. P. Mortlock (Ed.), The evolution of metabolic function (pp. 237–295). Boca Raton: CRC Press.

  • Margulis, L. (1975). Symbiotic theory of the origin of eukaryotic organelles: Criteria for proof. Symposia of the Society for Experimental Biology, 29, 21–38.

  • Mirkin, B. G., Fenner, T. I., Galperin, M. Y., & Koonin, E. V. (2003). Algorithms for computing parsimonious evolutionary scenarios for genome evolution, the last universal common ancestor and dominance of horizontal gene transfer in the evolution of prokaryotes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 3(2). doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-3-2

  • Peretó, J., López-García, P., & Moreira, D. (2004). Ancestral lipid biosynthesis and early membrane evolution. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 29(9), 469–477. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2004.07.002

  • Poole, A. M., Horinouchi, N., Catchpole, R. J., Si, D., Hibi, M., Tanaka, K., & Ogawa, J. (2014). The case for an early biological origin of DNA. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 79(5–6), 204–212. doi: 10.1007/s00239-014-9656-6

  • Stanier, R. Y., & Van Niel, C. B. (1941). The main outlines of bacterial classification. Journal of Bacteriology, 42(4), 437–463.

  • Szathmáry, E. (2005). Life: In search of the simplest cell. Nature, 433, 469-470. doi: 10.1038/433469a

  • Whittaker, R. H. (1969). New concepts of kingdoms of organisms. Science, 163, 150–160. doi: 10.1126/science.163.3863.150

  • Woese, C. R., & Fox, G. E. (1977a). Phylogenetic structure of the prokaryotic domain: The primary kingdoms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 74, 5088–5090. doi: 10.1073/pnas.74.11.5088

  • Woese, C. R., & Fox, G. E. (1977b). The concept of cellular evolution. Journal of Molecular Evolution, 10, 1–6. doi: 0.1007/BF01796132

  • Woese, C. R. (1998). The universal ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 95, 6854–6859.







Creative Commons License
Texts in the journal are –unless otherwise indicated– published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________