Deep Sea Cousins – a poem by Kate Rauner

A mass of gel.
Has organelles.germ-virus-md2
There lives a form
Deep in the seas
That shares some genes
With both of these.
Say scientists who made the find
“We thought this really weird.”
In analyzing DNA
Surprising genes appeared.
Just as across the eons had,
Existing down below,
Dividing once per decade,
Exceedingly slow.
In the dark and in the cold
Peaceful lives unplanned
Paid no notice to their kin
That floated up to land.
Sorting their relationships
Thanks to discovery
Along with fungus, plants, and us
Twigs on our family tree.

A team of biologists, co-led by Dr Lionel Guy and Dr Thijs J. G. Ettema from Uppsala University in Sweden, has discovered a new group of microorganisms that represents an intermediate form in-between the simple cells of bacteria and the complex cell types of eukaryotes.

“This is an organism living today is a descendent of the last common ancestor perhaps – but is has retained characteristics of the last common ancestor.”

Researchers have debated whether eukaryotes—the group of relatively complex organisms that includes fungi, plants, and animals—are descendants of archaea or merely their close relatives. Newly discovered archaea from the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean suggest that eukaryotes evolved from archaea. A genomic analysis of one of the organisms, called Loki, reveals that it is the most eukaryotelike prokaryote so far discovered. The study suggests that the ancestor of eukaroytes might have had an actin cytoskeleton and rudimentary internal structures composed of membranes.


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