Is Lokiarchaeota the key to answering where eukaryotic complexity came from?

Is Lokiarchaeota the key to answering where eukaryotic complexity came from?

The eukaryotic cell represents one of the key innovations in evolution – a highly compartmentalized cell that likely unlocked the multicellular complexity of present day lineages around 2 billion years ago. Eukaryotes arose, likely, through the merger between an archeal host cell and an alphaproteobacteria, which became what is known today as the mitochondria. Lokiarchaeota is a clade of archea that are found in deep sea sediments, and genomic analyses place them at the root of eukaryotic evolution – more closely related with eukaryotes than any prokaryote. The authors of a recent study sampled aquatic sediments and undertook a metagenomic approach to explore the lokiarchaeota and its related lineages (designated as Asgard superphylum). Their findings include eukaryotic signatures among the Asgard superphylum, such as membrane-trafficking components. Phylogenomic analyses indicate that aquisition of mitochondria took place after the invention of fundamental eukaryotic features. While their findings are interesting, we also think that some caution is warranted. We know that effects of long branch attraction can give rise to incorrect phylogenies, due to insufficient and unevenly distributed data.

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