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Nick Lane

Power, sex, suicide

It is thought that approximately one and a half billion years ago two types of bacteria forged a symbiotic union to create the eukaryotic cell. Those that became mitochondria may seem to have the subservient role, but in this work by Nick Lane we hear how recent discoveries in the subject are changing this view. The presence of mitochondria not only allowed eukaryotic cells to become much larger than bacteria, but also enabled them to join together to form multicellular organisms. Mitochodnria then had an important part to play in preventing cells from rebelling. They were also involved in the evolution of sex, and explain why there are two distinct sexes.

The final chapter of the book looks at the part mitochondria play in ageing, and how we might be able to slow it down. I feel that it is important that as many people as possible find out about these possibilities in order to have an imformed debate about the ethical issues.

Although this work is aimed at non-specialists, I think that readers without some background knowledge of cellular biology are likely to struggle. The book looks at recent research, often requiring subtle arguments on why we think differently now from 20 or 30 years ago. However, if you do have the required background knowledge then reading this book will be very rewarding.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 368 pages  
ISBN: 0192804812
Salesrank: 495421
Weight:1.59 lbs
Published: 2005 Oxford University Press
Marketplace:New from $48.90:Used from $13.13
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 372 pages  
ISBN: 0192804812
Salesrank: 1017459
Weight:1.59 lbs
Published: 2005 OUP Oxford
Marketplace:New from £71.40:Used from £6.80
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 368 pages  
ISBN: 0192804812
Salesrank: 695958
Weight:1.59 lbs
Published: 2005 Oxford University Press
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 113.33:Used from CDN$ 47.88
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Product Description
If it weren't for mitochondria, scientists argue, we'd all still be single-celled bacteria. Indeed, these tiny structures inside our cells are important beyond imagining. Without mitochondria, we would have no cell suicide, no sculpting of embryonic shape, no sexes, no menopause, no aging.
In this fascinating and thought-provoking book, Nick Lane brings together the latest research in this exciting field to show how our growing insight into mitochondria has shed light on how complex life evolved, why sex arose (why don't we just bud?), and why we age and die. These findings are of fundamental importance, both in understanding life on Earth, but also in controlling our own illnesses, and delaying our degeneration and death. Readers learn that two billion years ago, mitochondria were probably bacteria living independent lives and that their capture within larger cells was a turning point in the evolution of life, enabling the development of complex organisms. Lane describes how mitochondria have their own DNA and that its genes mutate much faster than those in the nucleus. This high mutation rate lies behind our aging and certain congenital diseases. The latest research suggests that mitochondria play a key role in degenerative diseases such as cancer. We also discover that mitochondrial DNA is passed down almost exclusively via the female line. That's why it has been used by some researchers to trace human ancestry daughter-to-mother, to "Mitochondrial Eve," giving us vital information about our evolutionary history.
Written by Nick Lane, a rising star in popular science, Power, Sex, Suicide is the first book for general readers on the nature and function of these tiny, yet fascinating structures.