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The Emergence of Predators in Early Life: There was No Garden of Eden


de Nooijer, S and Holland, BR and Penny, D, The Emergence of Predators in Early Life: There was No Garden of Eden, PLOS One, 4, (6) EJ ISSN 1932-6203 (2010) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright: © 2009 de Nooijer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005507


Background: Eukaryote cells are suggested to arise somewhere between 0.85,2.7 billion years ago. However, in the present world of unicellular organisms, cells that derive their food and metabolic energy from larger cells engulfing smaller cells (phagocytosis) are almost exclusively eukaryotic. Combining these propositions, that eukaryotes were the first phagocytotic predators and that they arose only 0.85,2.7 billion years ago, leads to an unexpected prediction of a long period (,1–3 billion years) with no phagocytotes – a veritable Garden of Eden. Methodology: We test whether such a long period is reasonable by simulating a population of very simple unicellular organisms - given only basic physical, biological and ecological principles. Under a wide range of initial conditions, cellular specialization occurs early in evolution; we find a range of cell types from small specialized primary producers to larger opportunistic or specialized predators. Conclusions: Both strategies, specialized smaller cells and phagocytotic larger cells are apparently fundamental biological strategies that are expected to arise early in cellular evolution. Such early predators could have been ‘prokaryotes’, but if the earliest cells on the eukaryote lineage were predators then this explains most of their characteristic features.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Information and Computing Sciences
Research Group:Artificial intelligence
Research Field:Artificial life and complex adaptive systems
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Holland, BR (Professor Barbara Holland)
ID Code:63294
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Mathematics
Deposited On:2010-04-27
Last Modified:2015-02-04
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