Origins of life: Common ancestry put to the test

  title={Origins of life: Common ancestry put to the test},
  author={Mike A. Steel and David Penny},
The question of whether or not all life on Earth has an ultimate common origin is a subtle one, complicated by the phenomenon of lateral gene transfer. It has now been tackled with a formal statistical analysis. Universal common ancestry (UCA), the idea that all terrestrial life is genetically related, from some “warm little pond” as Darwin put it, has become central to modern evolutionary theory. The classic evidence for UCA is extensive, but largely qualitative, and the theory is rarely… 
Was the universal common ancestry proved?
It is thought that the test of Theobald is not sufficient enough to reject the alternative hypothesis of the separate origins of life, despite the Akaike information criterion (AIC) of model selection giving a clear distinction between the competing hypotheses.
The common ancestry of life
A computational experiment on a concatenated alignment of universally conserved proteins shows that the purported demonstration of the universal common ancestry is a trivial consequence of significant sequence similarity between the analyzed proteins.
Statistical evidence for common ancestry: Application to primates
A diversity of statistical methods using data from the primates are explored, including one that tests for phylogenetic autocorrelation while correcting for variation due to confounding ecological traits and a method for examining whether fossil taxa have fewer derived differences than living taxa.
Some Problems in Proving the Existence of the Universal Common Ancestor of Life on Earth
It is shown that the alignment gives a strong bias for the common ancestor hypothesis, and an example that Theobald's method supports a common ancestor hypotheses for two apparently unrelated families of protein-encoding sequences is provided.
Cellular automata-based artificial life system of horizontal gene transfer
A novel cellular automata model general gene transfer is presented to simulate and study the vertical gene transfer and HGT in the prokaryotes and Schrodinger's life theory is used to formulate some evaluation indices and to discuss the intelligence and cognition of proKaryotes which is derived from HGT.
Evolution of replication machines
This review will compare and contrast the central proteins of the “replisome” machines that duplicate DNA in bacteria, archaea and eukarya, with an eye to understanding the issues surrounding the evolution of the DNA replication apparatus.
Evolutionary Growth of Genome Representations on Artificial Cellular Organisms with Indirect Encodings
This work investigates an incremental evolutionary growth of genomes without any a priori knowledge on the necessary genotype size by means of gene duplication, allowing the evolution of scalable genomes that are able to adapt genetic information content while compactness and efficiency are retained.
Evolution of diversity in metabolic strategies
This work investigates the evolutionary dynamics of resource use constrained by tradeoffs and shows that if the tradeoffs are non-linear, the system either does not diversify, or diversifies into a number of coexisting species that does not exceed the number of resources.
Algorithmic Advancements and Massive Parallelism for Large-Scale Datasets in Phylogenetic Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo
A more exact graph-based algorithm for determining rogue taxa is presented, which results in a runtime improvement of more than three orders of magnitude compared to a previously published näıve algorithm.


A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry
Among a wide range of biological models involving the independent ancestry of major taxonomic groups, the model selection tests are found to overwhelmingly support UCA irrespective of the presence of horizontal gene transfer and symbiotic fusion events, providing powerful statistical evidence corroborating the monophyly of all known life.
Pattern pluralism and the Tree of Life hypothesis
Pattern pluralism (the recognition that different evolutionary models and representations of relationships will be appropriate, and true, for different taxa or at different scales or for different purposes) is an attractive alternative to the quixotic pursuit of a single true TOL.
Testing the hypothesis of common ancestry.
This work reviews and critically examines some arguments that have been proposed in support of the hypothesis that all life on earth traces back to a single common ancestor, and describes some theoretical results that suggest the hypothesis may be intrinsically difficult to test.
Multiple origins of life.
  • D. Raup, J. W. Valentine
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1983
The probability of survival of life is low unless there are multiple origins, and the odds are that all but one would have gone extinct, yielding the monophyletic biota the authors have now.
Modular networks and cumulative impact of lateral transfer in prokaryote genome evolution
These results indicate that, on average, at least 81 ± 15% of the genes in each genome studied were involved in lateral gene transfer at some point in their history, even though they can be vertically inherited after acquisition, uncovering a substantial cumulative effect of lateral geneTransfer on longer evolutionary time scales.
The Category of X-Nets
The theory of X-nets described here in terms of metric spaces can be used as a natural framework for taxonomic analysis in terms (the much more familiar) phylogenetic trees in analogy to the framework offered by the theory ofX-trees supporting taxonomicAnalysis in termsOf phylogenetic networks.
On the Impossibility of Reconstructing Ancestral Data and Phylogenies
It is proved that it is impossible to reconstruct ancestral data at the root of "deep" phylogenetic trees with high mutation rates from a number of characters smaller than a low-degree polynomial in the number of leaves.
Testing the theory of evolution by comparing phylogenetic trees constructed from five different protein sequences
This work has tested the prediction that similar phylogenetic trees should be obtained from different sets of character data using sequence data for 5 proteins from 11 species and found that this prediction is consistent with the theory of evolution.
Networks: From Biology to Theory
This volume explores the concept of dynamic patterns of interactions between units in bioinformatics in full, featuring contributions from a global group of contributors, many of whom are pre-eminent in their field.
Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science
The evidence for intelligent design, natural selection, and common ancestry are stronger than previously thought, and the case for shared ancestry is stronger than ever.