New insights into mitochondria reveal how life expends energy
By Philip Ball, Illustration by Alexander Glandien, Naitulus
Nick Lane is an evolutionary biochemist at University College London who thinks about the big questions of life: how it began, how it is maintained, why we age and die, and why we have sex. Shunning the habit of our times to regard these as questions for evolutionary genetics, Lane insists that our fundamental biochemical mechanisms—particularly those through which living cells generate energy—may determine or limit these facts of life.
Lane has been steadily constructing an alternative, complementary view of evolution to the one in which genes compete for reproductive success and survival. He has argued that some of the big shifts during evolutionary history, such as the appearance of complex cells called eukaryotes (like our own) and the emergence of multicellular life forms, are best understood by considering the energetic constraints.
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