The endosymbiotic (Greek: ἔνδον endon "within", σύν syn "together" and βίωσις biosis "living") theories were first articulated by the Russian botanist Konstantin Mereschkowski in 1910, although the fundamental elements of the theory were described in a paper five years earlier. Mereschkowski was familiar with work by botanist Andreas Schimper, who had observed in 1883 that the division of chloroplasts in green plants closely resembled that of free-living cyanobacteria, and who had himself tentatively proposed (in a footnote) that green plants had arisen from a symbiotic union of two organisms. Ivan Wallin extended the idea of an endosymbiotic origin to mitochondria in the 1920s. These theories were initially dismissed or ignored. More detailed electron microscopic comparisons between cyanobacteria and chloroplasts (for example studies by Hans Ris), combined with the discovery that plastids and mitochondria contain their own DNA (which by that stage was recognized to be the hereditary material of organisms) led to a resurrection of the idea in the 1960s.
The endosymbiotic theory was advanced and substantiated with microbiological evidence by Lynn Margulis in a 1967 paper, The Origin of Mitosing Eukaryotic Cells. In her 1981 work Symbiosis in Cell Evolution she argued that eukaryotic cells originated as communities of interacting entities, including endosymbiotic spirochaetes that developed into eukaryotic flagella and cilia. This last idea has not received much acceptance, because flagella lack DNA and do not show ultrastructural similarities to bacteria or archaea. See also Evolution of flagella. According to Margulis and Dorion Sagan, "Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking" (i.e., by cooperation). The possibility that peroxisomes may have an endosymbiotic origin has also been considered, although they lack DNA. Christian de Duve proposed that they may have been the first endosymbionts, allowing cells to withstand growing amounts of free molecular oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. However, it now appears that they may be formed de novo, contradicting the idea that they have a symbiotic origin.
The basic plant cell has a similar construction to the animal cell, but does not have centrioles, lysosomes, cilia, or flagella. It does have additional structures, a rigid cell wall, central vacuole, plasmodesmata, and chloroplasts.
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