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Review ARTICLE

Front. Microbiol., 04 May 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2012.00167

Keys to eukaryality: Planctomycetes and ancestral evolution of cellular complexity

John A. Fuerst* and Evgeny Sagulenko
  • School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

Planctomycetes are known to display compartmentalization via internal membranes, thus resembling eukaryotes. Significantly, the planctomycete Gemmata obscuriglobus has not only a nuclear region surrounded by a double-membrane, but is also capable of protein uptake via endocytosis. In order to clearly analyze implications for homology of their characters with eukaryotes, a correct understanding of planctomycete structure is an essential starting point. Here we outline the major features of such structure necessary for assessing the case for or against homology with eukaryote cell complexity. We consider an evolutionary model for cell organization involving reductive evolution of Planctomycetes from a complex proto-eukaryote-like last universal common ancestor, and evaluate alternative models for origins of the unique planctomycete cell plan. Overall, the structural and molecular evidence is not consistent with convergent evolution of eukaryote-like features in a bacterium and favors a homologous relationship of Planctomycetes and eukaryotes.

Keywords: Planctomycetes, evolution, compartmentalization, cell complexity, LUCA, eukaryote evolution, origin of nucleus, Gemmata obscuriglobus

Citation: Fuerst JA and Sagulenko E (2012) Keys to eukaryality: Planctomycetes and ancestral evolution of cellular complexity. Front. Microbio. 3:167. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00167

Received: 19 January 2012; Accepted: 13 April 2012;
Published online: 04 May 2012.

Edited by:

Naomi L. Ward, University of Wyoming, USA

Reviewed by:

Jonathan H. Badger, J. Craig Venter Institute, USA
Peter J. Christie, University of Texas at Houston Medical School, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Fuerst and Sagulenko. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: John A. Fuerst, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072, QLD, Australia e-mail: j.fuerst@uq.edu.au