A case could be made that the most significant moment on Earth occurred two billion years ago when a single-cell organism engulfed another to form the building block of complex life.

Everything, from fungi to humans, emerged from the eukaryotic cell. Researchers have now created an organism similar to that fateful one in a “tour de force of microbiology” that has illuminated one of the most mysterious and important chapters in life.



The reason multi-celled organisms such as animals and plants exist at all is because of an ancient symbiosis. Scientists believe that a single-cell organism called an archaea trapped a bacterium one day. Rather than destroying it, the archaea merged with it, harnessing its abilities to produce energy — like swallowing a battery.

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