The tree of life is a glorious conception that held out the promise of revealing the sweeping evolutionary history of life on earth, right back to the origin of life. The stark reality is a complex and enigmatic trajectory that is not easy to interpret by genetics alone. I shall argue that structural constraints, notably membrane bioenergetics, dictated the actual path of evolution, and can explain many features, from the origin of life to the singular origin of eukaryotic cells, along with traits such as two sexes, the germline, and speciation.
The Flux Capacitor: How mitochondria shape the evolution of complexity
Department of Genetics. University of Cambridge