![if !IE]> <![endif]>
Did eukaryotes develop from prokaryotes?
The complexity of eukaryotes raises many questions about how such cells arose from simpler progenitors. Symbiosis plays a large role in current theories of the rise of eukaryotes; the symbiotic association between two organisms is seen as giving rise to a new organism that combines characteristics of both the origi-nal ones. The type of symbiosis called mutualism is a relationship that benefits both species involved, as opposed to parasitic symbiosis, in which one species gains at the other’s expense. A classic example of mutualism (although it has been questioned from time to time) is the lichen, which consists of a fungus and an alga. The fungus provides water and protection for the alga; the alga is photosynthetic and provides food for both partners. Another example is the root-nodule system formed by a leguminous plant, such as alfalfa or beans, and anaerobic nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Figure 1.21).
The plant gains useful compounds of nitrogen, and the bacteria are protected from oxygen, which is harmful to them. Still another example of mutualistic symbiosis, of great practical interest, is that between humans and bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, that live in the intestinal tract. The bacteria receive nutrients and protection from their immediate environment. In return, they aid our digestive process. Without beneficial intestinal bacteria, we would soon develop dysentery and other intestinal disorders. These bacteria are also a source of certain vitamins for us, because they can synthesize these vitamins and we cannot. The disease-causing strains of E. coli that have been in the news from time to time differ markedly from the ones that naturally inhabit the intestinal tract.
Copyright © 2018-2023 BrainKart.com; All Rights Reserved. Developed by Therithal info, Chennai.