Last post of Sem. I (2013) of Bio: a Recap

This blog post is an illustrated review/outline of the first semester of Biology. Images taken from the web will show the most important topics discussed during this semester. These images will prompt you to ‘retrieve’ answers from knowledge gathered during the semester; and relate that knowledge to the images shown. I will ask you questions regarding the images, which are questions that have been discussed at some point during the semester; also, these questions are aligned with the outlines/reviews uploaded to your Edline Bio pages (AP Biology and 10th grade Biology).

I. Life: an introduction

Spirals the brocoli and the snail

What is emergence? Why is this concept so important in Biology? Why spirals are good metaphors to understand emergence?

Taxonomy

Why classification is important in Biology?

DNA

What is a gene?

SARS

Why are viruses considered ‘biological entities’ and not organisms? What does this tells us about the characteristics of life?

Metallic chrysalis

How is this image an example of homeostasis?

Common Ancestry II

Briefly explain the concept ‘common ancestry’ with this image.

Scientific Method II

Why the scientific method should be understood as cyclical and not lineal? Image via Ars Technica.

II. Life and Chemistry

electrons

What is matter? What is an atom? Why are valence electrons important to understand the nature of compounds?

Hydrogen Bond visualization

This image is both: a model and an electron microscope image of a chemical (real) phenomenon. What event is illustrated here? Why is this event so important for life?

Proteus

This image is an artist’s representation of an ancient greek god called Proteus. He was able to morph into any shape he desired. What molecule of life does this image remind you of?

This is a 3D filled model of an enzyme called Hexokinase. Why are proteins important for life?

This is a 3D filled model of an enzyme called Hexokinase. Why are proteins important for life?

This image is a carbon allotrope known as a fullerene. Why carbon is important for life?

This image is a carbon allotrope known as a fullerene. Why carbon is important for life?

III. The Cell

What is the etymology of the word 'Eukarya'?

What is the etymology of the word ‘Eukarya’?

Why cells cannot be the size of an elephant?

Why cells cannot be the size of an elephant?

How is this arrangement of organelles called?

How is this arrangement of organelles called?

What is an 'endosymbiotic relationship'?

What is an ‘endosymbiotic relationship’?

What is this image? What type of microscope was used to magnify this structure?

What is this image? What type of microscope was used to magnify this structure?

IV. Diffusion & Osmosis

Refer to the blog post of October 30, 2013 titled: Diffusion and Osmosis (via Khan Academy)

V. Metabolism

What type of metabolic pathway is illustrated here?

What type of metabolic pathway is illustrated here?

What is energy? What is entropy? How the definitions of 'energy' and 'entropy' can be related to the Laws of Thermodynamics?

What is energy? What is entropy? How the definitions of ‘energy’ and ‘entropy’ can be related to the Laws of Thermodynamics?

VI. Cellular Respiration & Photosynthesis

For this topic, refer to the following blog posts:

Glycolysis, or how cells break down carbohydrates

The Citric Acid Cycle (via Khan Academy).

Photosynthesis web kit.

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73 thoughts on “Last post of Sem. I (2013) of Bio: a Recap

  1. I think I speak for most when I say that the thing that has surprised me the most is the vast microscopic world that exists in our environment and within ourselves. The incredible ability for our bodies to have a defense system ready to defend their ground and the highly complex processes plants must go through to make their own organic compounds are just things one must really be astounded to know. Biology is a very interesting field of study, one I hope I get to know very well. And, thanks to our excellent professor, I already feel fond of biological studies. Thank you, Adrover.

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    • Science, art, and our current context—historic, to say the least; we live in an age of many important scientific breakthroughs—are sources of genuine amazement.

      If students approach education with a modicum of curiosity & sense of wonder, then «science» would not be «difficult» or «unapproachable».

      Thank you for doing excellent work.

      Like

  2. Classification is one of the topics I was not present in class when discussed, but I have always had a special interest in it. It is one of the basics examples of how science is present in our society in a more simple way. For biological purposes, classification is crucial because it helps in exactly describing the organism. It is like a biography of an organism. Biologists study millions of organisms that live on Earth and through their method of organization they prevent errors to occur when studying in each organism or comparing them to others. If scientist had not created a specific format that gave a proper identity to each organism, maybe scientific studies would have not been so advance as it is today. When explaining classification to a person, we can connect this concept to a more basic or common example in order to make it easier for the person to understand. For example, when a person is born it is given a name, which describe its gender and the family from which it comes from. Making every individual unique and in legal situations it prevents that person to be confused with others. The person’s name can even tell from where in the world did his or her family originated, in the same way an organisms name can give us its classification.

    Connecting biology with the daily life is a better process to understand concepts and to not forget them. Through this semester you have given us the tools to makes these types of association to really grasp the topics we share in class and it has worked.
    Thank you Mr. Adrover!

    Here is a link to a website that talks a little more about Classification, but it also answers very common questions in the science field in a simpler way.

    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-biological-classification.htm

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  3. The thing that most shocks me in biology is that all things are connected with each other, everything depends on other processes that occur. Emergence is seen in biology and is very important for the understanding of it. Emergence shows us how things in biology are related with one another. A spiral is used to show emergence because things change and progress from something small to something more complex. Emergence is not only seen in our enviroment but it is also seen in our body and all throughout biology. In the link below you will see how emergence is seen all over our body.

    http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/biological-complexity-and-integrative-levels-of-organization-468

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    • “Complexity and Integrative Levels of Organization”. Great title for a scientific paper, and very relevant for what you said in regards to emergence.

      I suggest that you do research on the topic for your senior project. It can be a paper of philosophy and science (emergence accounts for many phenomena in physics & chemistry).

      Like

  4. A spiral is a metaphor to emergence because a spiral starts from a little peak just as life and everything that develops. Everything that develops starts from zero and it grows or emerges to something bigger. We can see emergence everywhere in nature. The naturw of a spiral is to go upwards but no in a straight line. Emergence is another concept that puts us humans to be part of the universe. We humans are a perfect example of emergence. Our emergence has occured slowly but continously. This is very important to biology because biology is all about evolution. This link shows scholarly articles for this especific topic. http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=emergence+in+biology&hl=en&as_sd+=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholar+&sa=X&ei=yy-dUvzdCYagkAeu8oCwDg&ved=OCCYQgQMwAA

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    • Many of the current breakthroughs in biology have to do with emergence. And the scholarly articles you shared are a good example of the current trends in biology. I suggest you check out concepts like “synthetic biology”, “biotechnology” in relationship to emergence.

      Like

  5. In relation to the phylogenetic tree of humans & apes, common ancestry means that a group of organisms share a common descent arising during speciation. Attempting to make a different point, I had found this interesting P.O.V. that instantly caught my eye and made me wonder about its content. Some people make a general classification that because humans and other hominids share a common ancestor, it automatically defines us as “apes”. These people are, for the most part, wrong; as the writer states in his title: “Humans aren’t monkeys. We aren’t apes.” Sharing a common ancestry does not state we’re the same species, at least from my perspective.
    The web blog post, with its lucrative and witty manner of speech as well as being informative, instantly catches your eye: http://johnhawks.net/weblog/topics/phylogeny/taxonomy/humans-arent-apes-2012.html

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  6. I found the use of the spiral as a metaphor for emergence to be very accurate since the shape of a spiral starts as a small twist, which then continues growing larger and developing, the same way organisms develop and adopt certain characteristics that allow them to adapt to our ever-changing environment. I was surprised that I’d never heard of this metaphor before, and I look forward to learning more about it.

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  7. When you sit down and take this all in and start to analyze that youre whole body is the most amazing machine in the whole world, its an awesome sensation!
    Im verry amazed with all this all i can really say is, Mens quasi ventum roris flantem, hoc est,

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      • There are some things that are looked at more closely in an AP Bio course in regards to genetics and evolution. Biotechnology will be a very important part of the second semester, so in that sense you’ll see new stuff. Also, evolution & ethics will be approached with more detail, focusing on the impact in society.

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  8. It’s incredible how carbon can exist in many different ways. As discussed in class, carbon is the fuel of a cell, serves as structure, and can bond in many ways. All life has a large amount of carbon. Carbon is essential for life on Earth. The carbon allotrope known as a fullerene is made out of 60 carbons arranged in a chain. Since it has many forms and shapes it is versatile, can do many things.

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  9. We could say that Biology is the union of all science that affect life. Biology in recap is the study of all the sciences working together to form the most complex thing in the world, LIFE. Through Biology I have learned that all those small part in the body work together, they have an interdependence. Together they complete one purpose. Few days ago I was thinking about biology and the purpose of a human’s life, I had a few questions that Google could not answer. Why do certain parts like organs, cells or organelles do what they do? What is the job of an organism like humans? What is the purpose of homeostasis? Thinking about biology helped me think and get curious. Biology answered some most of my questions but they were a few unanswered. What is the purpose of life? Reproduction?

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    • Many of the questions you just asked, fortunately, have no clear cut answer. But we can pursue them, that is why art, philosophy, culture, etc., are so important. You are very correct in saying that many of the questions that you have Google cannot answer them.

      And that is a good thing.

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  10. Hey dont sweat it, the job of organs and organelles varies it all depends which organ we are talking about.

    And the purpose of homeostasis is to keep stable internal conditions for living organisms in a changing environment.

    And basically our puprpose as organism is too reproduce and populate and enlargen the species.
    But the purpose of being a human being is yours to find on your own. Good luck!

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  11. In our opinion one of the most vital aspect this post teach us is that carbon is the backbone of life. We find it very intresting how one element can dominate and prevail among an entire planet. Without it, we’d be useless dust scattered in the skies; dead men. 👴🔫🔪

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    • Current speculative models suggest that Silicon (Si)* can play carbon’s role of being a backbone for life. So, it is plausible that Si based life forms are out there.

      *sand, computer boards, etc., are made out of silicon compounds.

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  12. In the semester we learned so many new thing and amongst them the most impressive was the microscopic world that lives within us. How everything connects in our body and works together to achieve every process in it. It is such a complex enviroment inside and outside our bodies that complement each other and interact to get the job done everysingle day. I am looking foward into learning genetics and many other themes next semester ! thank Mrs.Adrover

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    • It is important to see the connections between the mayor themes in Biology; that is the only way that ‘chloroplast’, ‘metabolism’, & ‘phylogenetics’—just to name a few examples—make sense.

      Like

  13. I think that something really interesting is that biology we can link Biology with everything in Earth even though we think they might not have to do anything with Biology. As we saw in a previous blog, here wee see once more art paired with biology in the model/sculpture of the virus. Also, we see it with the photograph of the snail. This photograph has a lot of cylinders, not only the shell but also the small parts of the broccoli. In class and in this blog we have talked about how the diversity of life originated from one organism, thus the shell of the snail can be a parallelism to this since it starts with a small point and spreads down. The evolution of life from one organism to a lot of different ones is also seen in this blog post in the diagram of the “tree of life”, which also help us see how organisms, including us humans, are related to others.

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  14. I’ve always heard it said that the scientific method is not a set of defined steps, but rather a list of guidelines that could be helpful to any scientist who is looking for an explicit answer. When a scientist is in the process of making a new discovery, there are many events that can take place that won’t go accordingly to the steps described by the scientific method. Thus, the researcher might have to repeat a step, or even change the oder. For example, if an experiment doesn’t prove you hypothesis to be correct, the scientist will need to go back and make another prediction until he reaches a desired result. The scientific method has been effective because of its flexibility. It is a well-thought and necessary procedure for making new discoveries.

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    • Many great discoveries are the result of flexible and creative uses of the scientific method. Take the example of Charles Darwin. Many of his greatest accomplishments are the result of keen observations.

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  15. This post helped me a lot because it refreshed my memory and helped me understand better the things that during the first semester I didn’t understand well. Also answering the questions made me feel secure about my knowledge in biology and being prepared for tomorrow’s exam. Thank you

    Like

  16. Throughout the semester we learned so many things, and I really enjoyed reviewing about all of them through this post. In my opinion, my favorite part was the Life and Chemistry chapters, because I really learned how important chemistry is for life, how related biology and chemistry are and how vital they are for each in other to function properly. Thanks for all the help you provided us, specially because through the posts we could understand better things that were difficult in the beginning. I am looking forward to next semester!

    Like

  17. In this post we can see how Biology is connected to everything in our daily lives. It is impressive to see how much more there is to what we can see with the naked eye. Throughout this whole semester i have learned how complex and effective are the things in our human body and in Earth. The highly efficient processes that happen during photosynthesis are the ones that have cought my attention the most. In this link that i put here, i found Bill gates’ quote very accurate and Richard Preston’s even more. In biology everything is so complicated, yet it manages to capture your attention and interest in such a way that you seem to understand everything. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/biology

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  18. In regard to the spiral of emergence it is actually very easy to see why it is a spiral instead of a straight line. In geometric terms both a spiral and a straight line have one thing in common, they have no end. However, a spiral has a beginning and it is not necessarily perfect because it is not an equally distanced figure. We cannot predict how long it would take to go from one step of evolution to the next, seeing as some changes have taken longer than others, a straight line is much to constant to describe evolution accurately. I guess it’s like when Hypathia realized that a circle was too perfect to be the orbit of a planet and concluded that it was an ellipse. We can also see this spiral in discovery. Sometimes we set ourselves back instead of forward or just keep “going in circles” ,so to speak, until we find an answer which will in turn lead to another set of questions that require an answer. It has a definite beginning but no definite end and it requires time and effort, its not constant. Just like a spiral.

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    • Unless we have some sort of quantum clock—or map—to accurately predict the end of life on this planet, we cannot estimate the end of the deoxyrribonucleic events that give rise to «species».

      Evolution—mentioned about 10 times on a text over 800 pages long—is an emergent sequence of events—genetic events—over the course of eons (billions of years).

      The spiral is useful to visualize the magnitude of natural selection, cosmology, genetics, & time.

      Like

  19. I have always been amazed at the small size of a cell and how regardless of how small it is it works in such an organized and productive way. It is incredible to think how something so small is able to do so many things. While thinking this fact came the question why do cell have to be so small and so hard to see? Then this year finally I learned the answer. I learned that if a cell is bigger the proportion of volume to area would not be balanced and it would make it harder for the materials to enter or leave the cell. I found this great video that explains why are cells small in a very easy way.

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    • Is perfectly normal and healthy to find it almost unbelievable that things in nature work, even in such small settings. They also work in much larger settings—imagine planets, stars, nebulas, galaxies, etc.

      I guess that being amazed—and letting yourself be amazed, rather than scared—by science is a very important part of it.

      Like

  20. In the semester we learned so many impressive things. The things that most shocks me in biology is that all things are connected with each other, everything depends on other processes that occur , how complex is the world we live in and what is happening inside our bodies. I am looking forward for next semester 😀

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  21. I think biology is essential for all aspects of life and the understanding of specific events in life that inflict in both humans and us. We can say that Biology is a form of philosophy since every day there are new questions needed to be answered for our daily lives and we strive to get those answers. I have learned a lot this year that Biology is not only a class, but an experience. I have grown very intimate towards Biology since you Mr. Adrover have made it part of my life by making it interesting and making it more than a class. THANK YOU for this wonderful semester.

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    • Thank you for showing interest in the blog, Angel.

      Scientific culture allows us to see the impact significant & and gained knowledge have in our daily lives.

      And I believe that you are following the right road towards achieving that which is the goal of this course: scientific literacy.

      Like

  22. It is inevitable to be amazed by this. Just thinking that all of these complex processes continuously go on inside our bodies is amazing. The human body is definitely an incredible creation.

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  23. I find very interesting the spiral and how it can be considered the primordial shape of emergence in the Universe. The spiral allows the process of evolution to continue happening, which will enable species to develop and transform in order to survive. Actually, I’m sure our existence could be questioned if the spiral would seize to exist. Amazing how a simple figure can symbolize such an amazing power in our everyday living.

    There are many theories which concur with this phenomenon, an example is shown below.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_evolution

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  24. This post was a great review for the final exam. It really sums up everything we have learned this semester and simplyfies it for us to understand it better. The spiral metaphor was just perfect, it is so accurate, ever living thing began at one point and then slowly the diversity of living organisms expanded just like the spiral.

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  25. Thinking about the phylogenetic tree, I’m kind of disappointed that I probably won’t live to know what the “missing link” is, something that always interested me when I was little was archaeology and the thought that are so many things right under our feet (maybe not literally) has always been a point of fascination and frustration with me. (don’t even get me started on what we could find in the ocean)

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    • I believe that the concept “missing link” is somewhat misleading. We will talk a lot more in class as to why this is so, but meanwhile do some research on the following concept: «transitional fossil».

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  26. I found this neat news article that states how back then people thought that cells from any type of animal, big or small, were “one size fits all” but recent discoveries at that time showed that size can make a big difference. They revealed two basic cell categories: cells that stay the same size but have drastically different energy needs that depend on the size of the mammal, or cells that grow larger in larger mammals and use energy at the same rate, no matter the mammal’s size. As you keep on reading it will explain in more depth about how size really species’s size affects their lives.

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  27. This post was very helpful in studying for the final. It summarized a lot of the things we needed to know and made it easy to understand. Thank you for posting it. The spiral metaphor really interested me and I will enjoy learning more about it.

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  28. In Biology class we discussed evolution and phylogeny. These topics were new to me, so as the year progressed I learned more about these topics and how they are related and interconnected in Biology. As one of the posts says, it is amazing to know that everything in Biology and life is connected, that we all share a common ancestor that although we don’t see it, humans according to genetics and DNA, share characteristics with animals and with other species we never imagined we’d share. This and other topics lead to evolution and emergence, how from one organism through reproduction and evolution there appear many more organisms that share these characteristics. As I researched for information about genetics and evolution I found this video about interviews made to professors of distinct universities and their views on evolution, and there arose this question which I believe is very controversial and can have different views and opinions from people: Are we still evolving?

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  29. the picture of the butterflies relates to homeostasy becaue they are adapting to their needs and environment. Homeostasy is known as the changes that the body performs in order to stabelize the body with the environment. that is why we sweat and\or shiver. Adriana Berrios Surillo

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  30. When it comes to my understanding of things I always try to relate the topic to things I already know. I learned so many things from all the topics studied this semester in our biology course. I remember thinking about a cell’s small size and related it to recent technological improvements and modifications. For example phones were very large in size but now they have advanced to thinner, smaller, yet more efficient models. Apple devices get smaller or thinner such as the IPad Mini or the MacBook Air, which is very light in weight but more efficient than many others. A cell is a metabolic compartment where a multitude of chemical reactions occur. The larger the volume is, the larger the number of reactions and the greater the surface area,the larger the amount of raw materials that can enter at only one time. As a cell grows it SA/V decreases,therefore a cell is more efficient at a smaller size. I can relate science to so many things. Thanks for a very insightful semester Mr. Adrover! Hope to learn a lot of new things during the second semester of the biology course.

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  31. As I saw the picture of the ancient greek god, Proteus, I wondered if myths like the ones from ancient Greece and Rome where also present in science and scientific discoveries. I found the link below, which describes some “scientific myths” that we all regard as true. Since we were children we were taught they were 100% correct, and now that I read this information on the link I am aware that many things in the history of science could’ve been inferred and then accepted to be true through the passing of years. Scientific discoveries must be proven completely correct in order for them to be accepted, but no one really questions the correctness of the history behind the discovery. Isaac Newton’s mystery form of discovery for gravity was the most interesting to read since I always thought that the way he discovered gravity was a known and proven fact.

    This is the link including various scientific discovery myths:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Myths_within_science

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  32. In this semester we learned such great things and this was a really good blog post to remember all the interesting topics discussed in class. In my opinion the most impacting topic was the microscopic world that lies within out bodies. It is amazing to study and learn about the things that make our body function every day. I am really looking forward to netxt semester and its future topics!

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  33. This post helped me a lot and it refreshed my memory and helped me understand better the things that during the first semester I did not understand. Also answering the questions made me feel more secure for today’s exam.

    Like

  34. The most impressive thing I have learned during the first semester of AP BIOLOGY must have to be the fact that viruses are not actually organisms but biological entities, meaning that they cannot survive to reproduce on their own. Viruses have no ability to metabolize on their own, differ from living organisms in that they cannot generate ATP, do not possess the necessary machinery for translation,do not possess ribosomes, and cannot independently form proteins from molecules of messenger RNA. Because of these limitations, viruses depend on a host organism for replication and manufacture of chemicals needed for replication. Viruses are considered as a completely separate form of life from cellular organisms. A virus can be thought of as merely a complex molecule with a protein coating.

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  35. I was reading all of these images and questions and the question of endosymbiotic relationship stopped me. Why should we think that a mitochondrion used to be a free-living organism in its own right? When you do look at it, mitochondria really do resemble tiny bacteria making a living inside eukaryotic cells! Well, it’s a very interesting topic to research on and so I did. This idea came about In the late 1960s when Lynn Margulis found it intriguing, when she was studying the mitochondria, that they look remarkably like bacteria. She knew that scientists had been struck by the similarity ever since the discovery of mitochondria at the end of the 1800s and she made a case on it. Other scientists found it skeptical at the time. When one of her professors saw DNA inside chloroplasts, Margulis was not surprised. After all, that’s just what you’d expect from a symbiotic partner. Margulis spent much of the rest of the 1960s honing her argument that symbiosis (see figure, below) was an unrecognized but major force in the evolution of cells. In 1970 she published her argument in The Origin of Eukaryotic Cells.

    It turns out that many lines of evidence support this endosymbiotic idea. Most important are the many striking similarities between prokaryotes (like bacteria) and mitochondria: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/_0_0/endosymbiosis_04
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/history_24

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