Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$10.53
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$8.80
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 86%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (29) from $1.99   
  • New (12) from $6.43   
  • Used (17) from $1.99   

Overview


Although Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution laid the foundations of modern biology, it did not tell the whole story. Most remarkably, The Origin of Species said very little about, of all things, the origins of species. Darwin and his modern successors have shown very convincingly how inherited variations are naturally selected, but they leave unanswered how variant organisms come to be in the first place.In Symbiotic Planet, renowned scientist Lynn Margulis shows that symbiosis, which simply means members of different species living in physical contact with each other, is crucial to the origins of evolutionary novelty. Ranging from bacteria, the smallest kinds of life, to the largest—the living Earth itself—Margulis explains the symbiotic origins of many of evolution’s most important innovations. The very cells we’re made of started as symbiotic unions of different kinds of bacteria. Sex—and its inevitable corollary, death—arose when failed attempts at cannibalism resulted in seasonally repeated mergers of some of our tiniest ancestors. Dry land became forested only after symbioses of algae and fungi evolved into plants. Since all living things are bathed by the same waters and atmosphere, all the inhabitants of Earth belong to a symbiotic union. Gaia, the finely tuned largest ecosystem of the Earth’s surface, is just symbiosis as seen from space. Along the way, Margulis describes her initiation into the world of science and the early steps in the present revolution in evolutionary biology; the importance of species classification for how we think about the living world; and the way “academic apartheid” can block scientific advancement. Written with enthusiasm and authority, this is a book that could change the way you view our living Earth.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Think you're better than pond scum? More evolved than household germs? Do you imagine a future in which technology triumphs over nature? Think again. In Symbiotic Planet, scientific rebel Lynn Margulis urges us to reconsider our lowly view of bacteria.

Margulis, now a distinguished professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, has always had a rebellious streak. At 13, she ran away from her advanced laboratory school, and without informing her parents or school administrators, enrolled herself in a rowdy public school where she "enjoyed a far wider choice of boyfriends." Despite the uproar when parents and school administrators discovered her misdeed, she was accomplished enough to enter the University of Chicago at the very young age of 14. It was there that she fell in love with a "tall, handsome, exceedingly articulate" physics graduate student. His name was Carl Sagan. At 19, she received a B.A. and married the soon-to-be-famous astronomer but did not abandon her own love of science. "Although I was twenty-two years old, and already a mother of two persistently active boys, my enthusiasm for pursuing cell genetics and evolution overwhelmed any thoughts of becoming a full-time housewife." Once more, she rebelled, opting out of "whiskey and cigarettes, poker and bridge, gossip and golf" and immersing herself in "babies, mud, trees, fossils, puppies and microbes."

While in graduate school at the University of California, she set out to prove an "unsettling" thesis: "All life forms today arose from a single bacterium over3,000million years ago. We evolved from the first bacteria, not from apes or the hand of God."

Her theory, entitled SET (serial endosymbiosis theory), laid out the series of mergers that led to multicellular life forms. Initially labeled radical and extreme by leaders in the scientific community, it is now taught as truth in college and high school textbooks.

Yet our sense of "species superiority" still persists; we still believe that yeast, algae, and bacteria are beneath us, little more than "disease germs." Margulis finds this bias particularly troubling when it comes to popular culture's take on the future of the earth.

For example, she finds "Star Trek" to be "tasteless" and "hideous." "If people ever journey into outer space, the endeavor will never be as machinate and barren" as it is for Captain Kirk and crew. Symbiosis in space will create millions of new life forms beyond and inside our own skin — forms far more independent and strong than humans bearing phasers.

Similarly, Margulis takes issue with the recent upsurge of interest in Gaia. She agrees with the scientific belief that the regulated surface of a living earth creates new environments and organisms but is disturbed by the personification of the planet as a tender goddess. Gaia is not a damsel in distress; she is a "tough bitch, not at all threatened by humans." As we move into a new millennium, Margulis cautions us to consider how our careful environmental concerns might merely be hubris. "The human move to take responsibility for the living Earth is laughable. The planet takes care of us, not we of it. Our self-inflated moral imperative to guide a wayward Earth or heal our sick planet is evidence of our immense capacity for self-delusion."

In clear, convincing prose, Margulis shows how nonhuman life survived long before us and will survive long after. This book will appeal to both science novices and experts, for like the best professors, Margulis is not only passionate and engaged but constantly provoking and challenging us to see the world in a new light.

Margot Towne is a freelance writer living in New York City.

—Barnesandnoble.com

Scientific American
...Margulis describes the development of her theory of symbiosis and ponders how it relates to the Gaia concept of a living earth.
Library Journal
For 30 years, the Gaia theory of life on Earth has remained vital, dynamic, and controversial. One of its leading advocates provides a synthesis and overview of the current status of the theory, plus a few important new ideas of her own. (LJ 11/15/98)
Scientific American
...Margulis describes the development of her theory of symbiosis and ponders how it relates to the Gaia concept of a living earth.
Kirkus Reviews
Let's hear it for the bugs—not your creepy-crawlies, but bacteria, the be-all (and possible end-all) of life on Earth, according to Margulis. Here she describes the once radical theory that cells have incorporated bacteria to mutual advantage and uses that as a springboard to summarize a still more radical theory of how species evolve. She calls it serial endosymbiosis theory (SET). It is now conventional wisdom that the energy-producing mitochondria in animal cells were once free-living bacteria. Indeed, they have their own genes—different from nuclear DNA. Margulis provides many examples of fruitful symbioses, including sexual union itself as the merger of sperm and egg cells. According to SET, there are successive steps or mergers that led to multicellular life forms: In steps one and two the oldest bacterial forms—the non-oxygen breathing 'archaebacteria' found in deep ocean vents—merged with swimming bacteria two billion years ago to form the nuclear heart of animal, plant, and fungal cells and provide the cilia for swimming. Later steps introduced a third partner able to breathe oxygen and added the ability to engulf and digest food (phagocytosis). The last step involved engulfing yet another bacterium—but one these various new forms of life could not digest: bright green photosynthetic bacteria. The bone of contention here is the origin of ciliated cells—critical to evolution for their vital role as sperm tails, among other things. Margulis has a theory about their origin, but as they say, more research is needed. Margulis' theory also dictates a change in taxonomy to five kingdoms: bacteria at the base, then 'protoctists' (algae, slimemolds, ciliates) next, and then animals, plants, and fungi. Finally, she defends Lovelock's Gaia theory, which she interprets to mean that enormous interacting ecosystems on Earth achieve homeostasis rather than that the planet is in the hands of some benign Mother Earth. This is vintage Margulis—personal, autobiographical, passionate, argumentative, at times over the top, but full of ideas—at least some of which, in the past, have proved to be right.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465072729
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Science Masters Series
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 629,447
  • Lexile: 1440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author


Lynn Margulis, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1983. She is best known for her pathbreaking work on the bacterial origins of cell organelles and for her collaboration with James Lovelock on Gaia theory. Her previous books include Symbiosis in Cell Evolution; Five Kingdoms (with K. V. Schwartz); and (with Dorion Sagan) Origins of Sex, Garden of Microbial Delights, What Is Life?, What Is Sex?, and Slanted Truths: Essays on Gaia, Symbiosis and Evolution.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue 1
1 Symbiosis Everywhere 5
2 Against Orthodoxy 13
3 Individuality by Incorporation 33
4 The Name of the Vine 51
5 Life from Scum 69
6 Animal Sex 87
7 Ashore 105
8 Gaia 113
Appendix 129
Notes 131
Index 137
About the Author 147
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

SYMBIOSIS EVERYWHERE

A Bee his burnished Carriage
Drove boldly to a Rose--
Combinedly alighting--
Himself-- (1339)

Symbiosis, the system in which members of different species live in physical contact, strikes us as an arcane concept and a specialized biological term. This is because of our lack of awareness of its prevalence. Not only are our guts and eyelashes festooned with bacterial and animal symbionts, but if you look at your backyard or community park, symbionts are not obvious but they are omnipresent. Clover and vetch, common weeds, have little balls on their roots. These are the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are essential for healthy growth in nitrogen-poor soil. Then take the trees, the maple, oak, and hickory. As many as three hundred different fungal symbionts, the mycorrhizae we notice as mushrooms, are entwined in their roots. Or look at a dog, who usually fails to notice the symbiotic worms in his gut. We are symbionts on a symbiotic planet, and if we care to, we can find symbiosis everywhere. Physical contact is a nonnegotiable requisite for many differing kinds of life.

    Practically everything I work on now was anticipated by unknown scholars or naturalists. One of my most important scientific predecessors thoroughly understood and explained the role of symbiosis in evolution. The University of Colorado anatomist Ivan E. Wallin (1883-1969) wrote a fine book arguing that new species originate through symbiosis. Symbiogenesis, an evolutionary term, refers to the origin of new tissues, organs, organisms--even species--by establishment of long-term permanent symbiosis. Wallin never used the word symbiogenesis, but he entirely understood the idea. He especially emphasized animal symbiosis with bacteria, a process he called "the establishment of microsymbiotic complexes" or "symbionticism." This is important. Although Darwin entitled his magnum opus On the Origin of Species, the appearance of new species is scarcely even discussed in his book.

    Symbiosis, and here I fully agree with Wallin, is crucial to an understanding of evolutionary novelty and the origin of species. Indeed, I believe the idea of species itself requires symbiosis. Bacteria do not have species. No species existed before bacteria merged to form larger cells including ancestors to both plants and animals. In this book I will explain how long-standing symbiosis led first to the evolution of complex cells with nuclei and from there to other organisms such as fungi, plants, and animals.

    That animal and plant cells originated through symbiosis is no longer controversial. Molecular biology, including gene sequencing, has vindicated this aspect of my theory of cell symbiosis. The permanent incorporation of bacteria inside plant and animal cells as plastids and mitochondria is the part of my serial endosymbiosis theory that now appears even in high school textbooks. But the full impact of the symbiotic view of evolution has yet to be felt. And the idea that new species arise from symbiotic mergers among members of old ones is still not even discussed in polite scientific society.

    Here is an example. I once asked the eloquent and personable paleontologist Niles Eldredge whether he knew of any case in which the formation of a new species had been documented. I told him I'd be satisfied if his example were drawn from the laboratory, from the field, or from observations from the fossil record. He could muster only one good example: Theodosius Dobzhansky's experiments with Drosophila, the fruit fly. In this fascinating experiment, populations of fruit flies, bred at progressively hotter temperatures, became genetically separated. After two years or so the hot-bred ones could no longer produce fertile offspring with their cold-breeding brethren. "But," Eldredge quickly added, "that turned out to have something to do with a parasite!" Indeed, it was later discovered that the hot-breeding flies lacked an intracellular symbiotic bacterium found in the cold breeders. Eldredge dismissed this case as an observation of speciation because it entailed a microbial symbiosis! He had been taught, as we all have, that microbes are germs, and when you have germs, you have a disease, not a new species. And he had been taught that evolution through natural selection occurs by the gradual accumulation, over eons, of single gene mutations.

    Ironically, Niles Eldredge is author with Stephen Jay Gould of the theory of "punctuated equilibrium." Eldredge and Gould argue that the fossil record shows evolution to be static most of the time and to proceed suddenly: rapid change in fossil populations occurs over brief time spans; stasis then prevails for extended periods. From the long view of geological time, symbioses are like flashes of evolutionary lightning. To me symbiosis as a source of evolutionary novelty helps explain the observation of "punctuated equilibrium," of discontinuities in the fossil record.

    Among the only other organisms besides fruit flies in which species have been seen to originate in the laboratory are members of the genus Amoeba and symbiosis was involved. Symbiosis is a kind, but not the notorious kind, of Lamarckianism. "Lamarckianism," named for Jean Baptiste Lamarck, who the French claim was the first evolutionist, is often dismissed as "inheritance of acquired characteristics." In simple Lamarckianism, organisms inherit traits induced in their parents by environmental conditions, whereas through symbiogenesis, organisms acquire not traits but entire other organisms, and of course, their entire sets of genes! I could say, as my French colleagues often have, that symbiogenesis is a form of neo-Larmarckianism. Symbiogenesis is evolutionary change by the inheritance of acquired gene sets.

    Living beings defy neat definition. They fight, they feed, they dance, they mate, they die. At the base of the creativity of all large familiar forms of life, symbiosis generates novelty. It brings together different life-forms, always for a reason. Often, hunger unites the predator with the prey or the mouth with the photosynthetic bacterium or algal victim. Symbiogenesis brings together unlike individuals to make large, more complex entities. Symbiogenetic life-forms are even more unlike than their unlikely "parents." "Individuals" permanently merge and regulate their reproduction. They generate new populations that become multiunit symbiotic new individuals. These become "new individuals" at larger, more inclusive levels of integration. Symbiosis is not a marginal or rare phenomenon. It is natural and common. We abide in a symbiotic world.

    In Brittany, on the northwest coast of France, and along beaches bordering the English Channel is found a strange sort of "seaweed" that is not seaweed at all. From a distance it is a bright green patch on the sand. The patches slosh around, shimmering in shallow puddles. When you pick up the green water and let it slip through your fingers you notice gooey ribbons much like seaweed. A small hand lens or low-power microscope reveals that what looked like seaweed are really green worms. These masses of sunbathing green worms, unlike any seaweed, burrow into the sand and effectively disappear. They were first described in the 1920s by an Englishman, J. Keeble, who spent his summers at Roscoff. Keeble called them "plant-animals" and diagrammed them splendidly in the color frontispiece of his book, Plant-Animals. The flatworms of the species Convoluta roscoffensis are all green because their tissues are packed with Platymonas cells; as the worms are translucent, the green color of Platymonas, photosynthesizing algae, shows through. Although lovely, the green algae are not merely decorative: they live and grow, die and reproduce, inside the bodies of the worms. Indeed they produce the food that the worms "eat". The mouths of the worms become superfluous and do not function after the worm larvae hatch. Sunlight reaches the algae inside their mobile greenhouses and allows them to grow and feed themselves as they leak photosynthestic products and feed their hosts from the inside. The symbiotic algae even do the worm a waste management favor: they recycle the worm's uric acid waste into nutrients for themselves. Algae and worm make a miniature ecosystem swimming in the sun. Indeed, these two beings are so intimate that it is difficult, without very high-power microscopy, to say where the animal ends and the algae begin.

    Such partnerships abound. Bodies of Plachobranchus, snails, harbor green symbionts growing in such even rows they appear to have been planted. Giant clams act as living gardens, in which their bodies hold algae toward the light. Mastigias is a man-of-war type of medusoid that swims in the Pacific Ocean. Like myriad small green umbrellas, Mastigias medusoids float through the light beams near the water's surface by the thousands.

    Similarly, freshwater tentacled hydras may be white or green, depending on whether or not their bodies are packed with green photosynthetic partners. Are hydras animals or plants? When a green hydra is permanently inhabited by its food producing partners (called Chlorella), it is hard to tell. Hydras, if green, are symbionts. They are capable of photosynthesizing, of swimming, of moving, and of staying put. They have remained in the game of life because they become individuals by incorporation.

    We animals, all thirty million species of us, emanate from the microcosm. The microbial world, the source and wellspring of soil and air, informs our own survival. A major theme of the microbial drama is the emergence of individuality from the community interactions of once-independent actors.

    I love to gaze on the daily life struggles of our nonhuman planetmates. For many years Lorraine Olendzenski, my former student, now at the University of Connecticut, and I have videographed life in the microcosm. More recently we have worked with Lois Byrnes, the vivacious former associate director of the New England Science Center in Worcester, Massachusetts. Together we and a fine group of U MASS students make films and videos that introduce people to our microbial acquaintances.

    Ophrydium, a pond water scum that, upon close inspection, seems to be countable green "jelly ball" bodies is an example of emergent individuality that we recently discovered in Massachusetts and redescribed. Our films show these water balls with exquisite clarity. The larger "individual" green jelly ball is composed of smaller cone-shaped actively contractile "individuals." These in turn are composite: green Chlorella dwell inside ciliates, all packed into rows. Inside each upside-down cone are hundreds of spherical symbionts, cells of Chlorella. Chlorella is a common green alga; those of Ophrydium are trapped into service for the jelly ball community. Each "individual organism" in this "species" is really a group, a membrane-bounded packet of microbes that looks like and acts as a single individual.

    A nutritious drink called kefir consumed in the Caucasus Mountains is also a symbiotic complex. Kefir contains grainy curds the Georgians call "Mohammed pellets." The curd is an integrated packet of more than twenty-five different kinds of yeast and bacteria. Millions of individuals make up each curd. From such interactive bodies of fused organisms new beings sometimes emerge. The tendency of "independent" life is to bind together and reemerge in a new wholeness at a higher, larger level of organization. I suspect that the near future of Homo sapiens as a species requires our reorientation toward the fusions and mergers of the planetmates that have preceded us in the microcosm. One of my ambitions is to coax some great director into producing evolutionary history as the microcosmic image in IMAX or OMNIMAX, showing spectacular living relationships as they form and dissolve.

    Now and throughout Earth's history, symbioses, both stable and ephemeral, have prevailed. Stories about this kind of evolution deserve broadcasting.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 19, 2011

    Highly recommended - a fascinating, different, scientific look at evolution (by merging of microbes rather than darwinism)

    Near the end of her book "Symbiotic PLanet", Lynn Margulis mentioned that she finally saw an episode of Star Trek, and thought it was silly,
    mainly because there were no microbes in the traveling biomass. I suspect she never viewed Star Trek Next Generation because she reminds me of "Q" in that series. I would call Lynn Margulis "Mrs. Q" - I laugh as I write this - because she at one point calls humans "upright mammalian weeds". There are bacteria and everything else according to her view. Our bodies are not only filled with useful bacteria, but our cells or organelles in our cells were once free living bacteria. The michrondria, for instance (and forgive any misspellings since this review is from memory), in our cells was once some kind of amoeba that ingested a bacteria, but did not digest it, instead forming a new life form. This is the meaning of symbiosis, organisms merging and living together. Mrs Q many times points out human arrogance in ascribing too high a separate place for the human organism, ha, ha, much like "Q" in Star Trek. Read this book, for a fascinating look at symbiotic evolution.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2005

    Leigha's Symbiotic Review

    Symbiotic Planet [A New Look at Evolution] is an in depth and detailed analysis of Lynn Margulis¿ theory of symbiogenesis. Symbiogenesis is ¿an evolutionary term, referring to the origin of new tissues, organs, organisms - even species ¿ by the establishment of long term or permanent symbiosis¿ (pg 6). Marguils¿ theory, known as SET (Serial Endosymbiosis Theory) is a radical challenge to many of Darwin¿s principles. To understand SET, one must first take a look at the symbiosis in every corner of the world. Symbiosis is a close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may benefit each member. As Margulis details, symbiosis is everywhere. From bacteria living on human eyelashes, to fungi on a maple tree, and worms inside the intestines of the average golden retriever; organisms living in sync together can be found anywhere on our planet. It has been believed by scientists that in history, organisms have been created through a type of symbiosis. This symbiosis is more than the friendly relationship between two organisms, but the drastic combining of the two to create a new and coalesced creature. Marguils refers to the creation of primitive eukaryotic cells, the most well known occurrence of symbiogenesis. It is believed that bacteria, a cell without a nucleus, engulfed a mitochondrial cell. In stead of digesting, the mitochondrial cell inhabited the cytoplasm of the bacteria creating a new, prokaryotic cell. Together the bacteria and the mitochondrial cell benefited each other and a new organism was formed. This theory is taught in high school science books across America and sets the foundation for Marguils¿ SET. Marguils also theorizes that Lemark, with his Darwin-challenging antics, made many correct conjectures in his theory of evolution. Marguils believes that an organism may adapt to its surroundings during its life, such as symbiogenesis. These abrupt adaptations will be passed onto later generations and new symbiogenetic organisms will thrive. Although SET is quite drastic and challenging to the scientific world, at has been adopted by many, as well as modified to fit each scientist¿s level of moderation. Lynn Marguils offers many supporting examples to defend SET. Along with the combining of mitochondrial cells and bacteria, Marguils often refers to ¿scum¿, or the algae and other living organisms which flourish atop ponds, lakes, and swamps. This ¿scum¿ is a symbiotic relationship between algae, many protists, and bacteria which benefit all and create a film-like substance on the top of these aqueous regions. Marguils argues that it would be very simple for this ¿scum¿ to be classified as one large mass of an organism, instead of many individual organisms, due to the extreme symbiotic nature of the mass. Marguils also repeatedly argues that DNA of mitochondria inside of cells today closely resemble those of oxygen-respiring bacteria living on their own. Most powerfully, she fights that the DNA of chloroplasts in cells are almost identical to that of cyanobacteria today (bacteria living on its own). The DNA of the chloroplasts is more similar to the cyanobacteria than even to the DNA of the algae in which the chloroplasts fill! In conclusion, Symbiotic Planet is an extensive and exhaustive analysis of the SET theory of Lynn Marguils. She powerfully fights that symbiogenesis is a major cause of evolution, pushing aside many of Darwin¿s accepted theories and unwaveringly pushes for what she believes in. Marguils will not let opposition stand in her was and declares, ¿That was that. Case closed.¿

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2005

    Leigha's Symbiotic Planet Review

    Symbiotic Planet [A New Look at Evolution] is an in depth and detailed analysis of Lynn Margulis¿ theory of symbiogenesis. Symbiogenesis is ¿an evolutionary term, referring to the origin of new tissues, organs, organisms - even species ¿ by the establishment of long term or permanent symbiosis¿ (pg 6). Marguils¿ theory, known as SET (Serial Endosymbiosis Theory) is a radical challenge to many of Darwin¿s principles. To understand SET, one must first take a look at the symbiosis in every corner of the world. Symbiosis is a close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may benefit each member. As Margulis details, symbiosis is everywhere. From bacteria living on human eyelashes, to fungi on a maple tree, and worms inside the intestines of the average golden retriever; organisms living in sync together can be found anywhere on our planet. It has been believed by scientists that in history, organisms have been created through a type of symbiosis. This symbiosis is more than the friendly relationship between two organisms, but the drastic combining of the two to create a new and coalesced creature. Marguils refers to the creation of primitive eukaryotic cells, the most well known occurrence of symbiogenesis. It is believed that bacteria, a cell without a nucleus, engulfed a mitochondrial cell. In stead of digesting, the mitochondrial cell inhabited the cytoplasm of the bacteria creating a new, prokaryotic cell. Together the bacteria and the mitochondrial cell benefited each other and a new organism was formed. This theory is taught in high school science books across America and sets the foundation for Marguils¿ SET. Marguils also theorizes that Lemark, with his Darwin-challenging antics, made many correct conjectures in his theory of evolution. Marguils believes that an organism may adapt to its surroundings during its life, such as symbiogenesis. These abrupt adaptations will be passed onto later generations and new symbiogenetic organisms will thrive. Although SET is quite drastic and challenging to the scientific world, at has been adopted by many, as well as modified to fit each scientist¿s level of moderation. Lynn Marguils offers many supporting examples to defend SET. Along with the combining of mitochondrial cells and bacteria, Marguils often refers to ¿scum¿, or the algae and other living organisms which flourish atop ponds, lakes, and swamps. This ¿scum¿ is a symbiotic relationship between algae, many protists, and bacteria which benefit all and create a film-like substance on the top of these aqueous regions. Marguils argues that it would be very simple for this ¿scum¿ to be classified as one large mass of an organism, instead of many individual organisms, due to the extreme symbiotic nature of the mass. Marguils also repeatedly argues that DNA of mitochondria inside of cells today closely resemble those of oxygen-respiring bacteria living on their own. Most powerfully, she fights that the DNA of chloroplasts in cells are almost identical to that of cyanobacteria today (bacteria living on its own). The DNA of the chloroplasts is more similar to the cyanobacteria than even to the DNA of the algae in which the chloroplasts fill! In conclusion, Symbiotic Planet is an extensive and exhaustive analysis of the SET theory of Lynn Marguils. She powerfully fights that symbiogenesis is a major cause of evolution, pushing aside many of Darwin¿s accepted theories and unwaveringly pushes for what she believes in. Marguils will not let opposition stand in her was and declares, ¿That was that. Case closed.¿

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)