Ancestors of cells infected with Legionella 2 billion years ago

Colonies that grow on Legionella agar plates and are irradiated using UV light to increase contrast. Obtained from the CDC Public Health Image Library. Credit: CDC / James Gathany (PHIL #: 7925)

Researchers at Uppsala University discovered that the ancestors of Legionella were infected with eukaryotic cells 2 billion years ago. It happened shortly after eukaryotes started eating bacteria. These results are Molecular Biology and EvolutionIt also contributes to the debate about chicken or the egg as to whether mitochondria or phagocytosis came first.

“Our research can help us understand how Harmful bacteria How complex it occurs cell “Evolved from simpler cells,” said Lionel Guy, an associate professor of evolutionary microbiology in the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, who led the study.

2 billion years ago Legionella Bacteria already had the ability to avoid digestion by eukaryotes.Instead, they started using Eukaryotic cells—Amebas, fungi, complex cells with nuclei that make up humans — proliferation.

Legionella, which causes legionellosis, belongs to a large group of bacteria called legionella. All Legionella bacteria can infect eukaryotic hosts such as amoebas, insects, or our own cells.

“We discovered that the ancestors of the entire group lived about 2 billion years ago. At that time, eukaryotes were still under construction and evolved from simple cells to today’s complex cell structures. Was, “said the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology. “We believe that Legionellales are one of the first to infect eukaryotic cells.”

The first step in infection with Legionella is for a host of eukaryotes, such as amoeba, to bring the bacterium into cells through a process called phagocytosis. The next step for amoeba is to digest the bacteria and use that part as an energy source. However, Legionella has a molecular tool that prevents it from being digested and can instead be propagated using amoeba as an energy source.

In this study, researchers show that all Legionella bacteria have the same type of molecular tools as Legionella bacteria. This suggests that the ability to infect eukaryotes was already present in all Legionellales ancestors. This means that when eukaryotes were in the early stages of evolution, phagocytosis was at least as old as Legionellales (2 billion years ago).

This influences the hot debate in evolutionary biology about how eukaryotes were born, chicken or the egg. Which came first?Was it a mitochondria from another group? Bacteria And has it become our cell’s own energy factory? Or was it a phagocytosis that was thought to be necessary to absorb mitochondria, but was very expensive from an energy standpoint?

“Some researchers believe that mitochondria are needed to provide enough energy for phagocytosis to function, but our results show that phagocytosis came first-20. Billion years ago- Mitochondria I came later, “says Lionel Guy.

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For more information:
Host adaptation in Legionellales is 1.9 Ga, consistent with eukaryotic development. Molecular Biology and Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1093 / molbev / msac037

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Uppsala University

Quote: The ancestors of cells infected with Legionella 2 billion years ago (February 15, 2022) are from https: // Obtained February 15, 2022

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Ancestors of cells infected with Legionella 2 billion years ago

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