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Meet plants' and algae's common ancestor: Primitive organisms not always so simple, researcher says

ScienceDaily (Feb. 17, 2012) -- A University of Arkansas biologist has created a sketch of what the first common ancestor of plants and algae may have looked like. He explains that primitive organisms are not always simple.

The image appears as part of a "Perspective" article in the Feb. 17 issue of Science.

Fred Spiegel, professor of biological sciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, suggests what microscopic parts would have been present in this common ancestor based on findings by Dana Price of Rutgers University and his colleagues, who examined the genome of a freshwater microscopic algae and determined that it showed that algae and plants are derived from one common ancestor. This ancestor formed from a merger between some protozoan-like host and cyanobacterium, a kind of bacteria that use photosynthesis to make energy, that "moved in" and became the chloroplast of this first alga. Price and his colleagues show that today's algae and plants have to be descended from this first alga, but they give no idea what it looked like.

"The work that Price and his group did nailed down what the relationships are" between this organism, the algae and plants, and all other eukaryotes, organisms that have a true nucleus in their cells, Spiegel said. "Once you know that, you can compare the structure of cells and characteristics you see in algae and plants with other eukaryotes and get a reasonable idea of what the original critter must have looked like."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 01:15:13 PM EST
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