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

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posted on 2023-05-17, 02:28 authored by de Nooijer, S, Barbara HollandBarbara Holland, Penny, D
Background: Eukaryote cells are suggested to arise somewhere between 0.85,2.7 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 0.85,2.7 billion years ago, leads to an unexpected prediction of a long period (,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.


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School of Natural Sciences


Public Library Science

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San Francisco, USA

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Copyright: © 2009 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.

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Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences

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