Current Genetics

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 367–390 | Cite as

The falsifiability of the models for the origin of eukaryotes

  • Matej Vesteg
  • Juraj Krajčovič


One group of hypotheses suggests archaeal and/or bacterial ancestry of eukaryotes, while the second group suggests that the ancestor of eukaryotes was different. Especially, the followers of the first group of hypotheses should ask the following: is the replacement of archaeal lipids by bacterial (or vice versa) possible? Do the phylogenies support the origin of one domain from another (or the others)? Can we consider the nutritional mode to resolve the problems of cell origin(s)? Is there any evidence that the ancestor of eukaryotes was intron-free? Would the symbiosis of α-proteobacterial ancestors of mitochondria be successful in an asexual host? Is there evidence that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) or the last eukaryotic common ancestor was bounded by one membrane only? With respect to the current knowledge about cells and their molecular components, the answer to most of these questions is: No! A model for the origins of domains is briefly presented which cannot be assigned as false through the current scientific data, and is rather consistent with the assumption that eukaryotes are direct descendants of neither archaea nor bacteria. It is proposed that the domain Bacteria arose the first, and that the last common ancestor of Archaea and Eukarya was a pre-cell or a progenote similar to LUCA. The pre-karyote (the host entity for α-proteobacterial ancestors of mitochondria) was probably bounded by two membranes, possessed spliceosomal introns and spliceosomes, was sexual, and α-proteobacterial ancestors of mitochondria were most likely parasites of the pre-karyote periplasm (intermembrane space).


Last universal common ancestor (LUCA) Lipid heterochirality Mitochondria Progenote Splicing Sexual reproduction 



Last archaeal common ancestor


Last bacterial common ancestor


Last common ancestor of Archaea and Eukarya


Last eukaryotic common ancestor


Last universal common ancestor





This work was supported by grant VEGA Grant No. 1/0416/09 from the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic to J. K., and it is the result of the project implementation: “Centre of excellence for exploitation of informational biomacromolecules in disease prevention and improvement of quality of life”, ITMS 26240120003, supported by the Research and Development Operational Programme funded by the ERDF. We wish to thank anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions that contributed to the final version of this manuscript. We thank Ray Marshall (Department of Languages, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Bratislava) for the language revision of this manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Faculty of Natural SciencesComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  2. 2.Faculty of Natural SciencesInstitute of Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Comenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia

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