Melbourne: Scientists have contradicted the theory that mitochondria -- the vital energy-producing units -- were engulfed by eukaryotic cells, showing that they acted like parasites instead.A team, led by the University of Sydney, investigated the bacterium Midichloria mitochondrii -- named after helpful Star Wars (flick) microbes, called Midi-chlorians, which live inside cells and grant the mystical power known as The Force.It has revealed that mitochondria may have entered human cells though a parasitic bacterium that used a tail to swim and could survive with almost no oxygen, the latest edition of the `Molecular Biology and Evolution` journal reported.The research challenges traditional explanations of how the ancestors of mitochondria first entered human cells between one and a half and two billion years ago. It also sheds new light on a process recognised as one of the major transitions in the history of life on earth."Our results challenge the paradigm -- shown in every biology textbook -- that mitochondria were passive bacteria gobbled up by a primordial cell," said lead scientists Dr Nathan Lo.
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