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Volume 197, 2020, 104178

The ambiguity of the basic terms related to eukaryotes and the more consistent etymology based on eukaryotic signatures in Asgard archaea

Alexander V.Pinevich

St. Petersburg State University, Department of Microbiology, Vasilyevsky Island, Liniya 16-ya, 29, 199178, St. Petersburg, Russia.


The endosymbiosis theory most widely accepted variant surmises the engulfment of a bacterial cell by an archaeal cell. For decades, this scenario was reputed to be an unconfirmed hypothesis, and only recently it has obtained an indirect proof in Asgard archaea environmental DNA encoding eukaryotic signatures − actin cytoskeleton, small GTPases, and ESCRT complex. In view of growing interest to this aspect of the endosymbiosis theory, it seemed timely to revisit the basic terms eukaryotic cell/eukaryotes/nucleated organisms. The article highlights the ambiguous applications of these terms, and seeks for their consistency with regard to phylogeny and taxonomy. Additionally, new name Caryosignifera is proposed for the phylum represented by: (1) the underexplored Asgard archaea manifested by above-mentioned environmental DNA; (2) cultured species of engulfing Asgard archaea; (3) eukaryotic host cells in nucleated organisms (protists, algae, plants, fungi, and animals).

Keywords: The endosymbiosis theory, Eukaryotic cell, Eukaryotes, Nucleated organisms, Asgard archaea.

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