Current analysis shows that the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA) was capable of full meiotic sex. The original eukaryotic life cycle can probably be described as clonal, interrupted by episodic sex triggered by external or internal stressors. The cycle could have started in a highly flexible form, with the interruption of either diploid or haploid clonal growth determined by stress signals only. Eukaryotic sex most likely evolved in response to a high mutation rate, arising from the uptake of the endosymbiont, as this (proto) mitochondrion generated internal reactive oxygen species. This is consistent with the likely development of full meiotic sex from a diverse set of existing archaeal (the host of the endosymbiont) repair and signalling mechanisms. Meiotic sex could thus have been one of the fruits of symbiogenesis at the basis of eukaryotic origins: a product of the merger by which eukaryotic cells arose. Symbiogenesis also explains the large-scale migration of organellar DNA to the nucleus. I also discuss aspects of uniparental mitochondrial inheritance and mitonuclear interactions in the light of the previous analysis.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Weird sex: the underappreciated diversity of sexual reproduction’.
One contribution of 15 to a theme issue ‘Weird sex: the underappreciated diversity of sexual reproduction’.
- Accepted July 11, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.