Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution

By Lynn Margulis | Go to book overview

Practically everything I work on now was anticipated by unknown scholars or naturalists. One of my most important scientific predecessors thoroughly understood and explained the role of symbiosis in evolution. The University of Colorado anatomist Ivan E. Wallin ( 1883-1969) wrote a fine book arguing that new species originate through symbiosis. Symbiogenesis, an evolutionary term, refers to the origin of new tissues, organs, organisms—even species—by establishment of long‐ term or permanent symbiosis.Wallin never used the word symbiogenesis, but he entirely understood the idea.He especially emphasized animal symbiosis with bacteria, a process he called "the establishment of microsymbiotic complexes" or "symbionticism." This is important.Although Darwin entitled his magnum opus On the Origin of Species, the appearance of new species is scarcely even discussed in his book. 1

Symbiosis, and here I fully agree with Wallin, is crucial to an understanding of evolutionary novelty and the origin of species.Indeed, I believe the idea of species itself requires symbiosis. Bacteria do not have species. 2 No species existed before bacteria merged to form larger cells including ancestors to both plants and animals.In this book I will explain how long-standing symbiosis led first to the evolution of complex cells with nuclei and from there to other organisms such as fungi, plants, and animals.

That animal and plant cells originated through symbiosis is no longer controversial. Molecular biology, including gene sequencing, has vindicated this aspect of my theory of cell symbiosis. The permanent incorporation of bacteria inside plant and animal cells as plastids and mitochondria is the part of my serial endosymbiosis theory that now appears even in high school textbooks. But the full impact of the symbiotic view of evolution has yet to be felt. And the idea that new species arise from symbiotic mergers among members of old ones is still not even discussed in polite scientific society.

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Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Symbiotic Planet - A New Look at Evolution *
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Prologue i
  • Chapter 1 Symbiosis Everywhere 5
  • Chapter 2 Against Orthodoxy 13
  • Chapter 3 Individuality by Incorporation 33
  • Chapter 4 the Name of the Vine 51
  • Chapter 5 Life from Scum 69
  • Chapter 6 Sex Legacy 87
  • Chapter 7 Ashore 105
  • Chapter 8 Gaia 113
  • Appendix: Major Kinds of Life 129
  • Notes 131
  • Index 137
  • About the Author 147
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