Saturday, October 1, 2011

Martin,2011,Biology Direct; Early evolution without a tree of life

Early evolution without a tree of life

William F Martin
Institut of Botany III, University of Düsseldorf, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany
Biology Direct 2011, 6:36 doi:10.1186/1745-6150-6-36

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:25 March 2011
Accepted:30 June 2011
Published:30 June 2011

© 2011 Martin; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 
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 work is properly cited.


Life is a chemical reaction. Three major transitions in early evolution are considered without recourse to a tree of life. The origin of prokaryotes required a steady supply of energy and electrons, probably in the form of molecular hydrogen stemming from serpentinization. Microbial genome evolution is not a treelike process because of lateral gene transfer and the endosymbiotic origins of organelles. The lack of true intermediates in the prokaryote-to-eukaryote transition has a bioenergetic cause.

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