The singular origin of complex life

University of Porto, Portugal

MitoPorto Opening Lecture

Eukaryotes arose just once in 4 billion years of evolution, from a singular endosymbiosis between an archaeal host cell and a bacterial endosymbiont, which ultimately evolved into mitochondria. Loss of genes from mitochondria enabled a massive expansion in nuclear genome size and gene expression, giving eukaryotes 3-5 orders of magnitude more energy per gene than prokaryotes. Mitochondria capable of oxidative phosphorylation always retain a core bioenergetic genome, which seems to be necessary to support this massively expanded nuclear genome. The mechanisms of selection on the mitochondrial genome are distinct from those on nuclear genes, involving uniparental inheritance rather than sexual recombination. The evolution of the germline in bilaterians relates largely to selection for mitochondrial function, including early sequestration of large oocytes containing thousands of mitochondria.

MitoPorto Opening Lecture (Mitochondrial evolution, metabolism and disease International Symposium. University of Porto, Portugal.

Mitochondria are dynamic organelles whose origin is intimately connected with the early steps in the evolution of complex life. Mitochondria are involved in numerous metabolic pathways, play fundamental roles in cellular physiology, and their dysfunction is associated with multiple human diseases.

In this second edition of MitoPorto (2018, July 13th) we will place an emphasis on mitochondrial evolution, metabolism and disease. Nevertheless, we welcome abstracts and communications from scientists with a multidisciplinary interest in mitochondrial research (e.g. in the context of neuroscience, cancer, genetics, etc.).