All life on Earth (bacteria, archaea, eukarya) is thought to have evolved from a common ancestor, or last universal common ancestor (LUCA). What do we know about the characteristics of LUCA based upon extant life?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia's article does a pretty fair job of summarizing the likely nature of the LUCA. $\endgroup$
    – mgkrebbs
    Mar 20 '12 at 4:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Seems rather broad at the moment. Perhaps one should constrain the question? $\endgroup$
    – bobthejoe
    Apr 15 '12 at 18:54

Carl Woese has much to say on this subject, including:

“The ancestor cannot have been a particular organism, a single organismal lineage. It was communal, a loosely knit, diverse conglomeration of primitive cells that evolved as a unit, and it eventually developed to a stage where it broke into several distinct communities, which in their turn become the three primary lines of descent [bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes].”

There is a 2000 Scientific American article by W.F. Doolittle that discusses much of Woese's (and others') work understanding this question.

Also, see a couple of Woese articles here and here.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.