The Monthly Scientist: Miss June

Is it really July already! The year seems to be flying by and I’m racing towards moving to London to start my masters degree! But plenty more blogs to write before that comes around.

Miss Lynn Margulis

margulis_2083580b.jpg

Born: 5 March 1938

Died: 22 November 2011

Noted for: American evolutionary theorist, particularly for the theory of symbiogenisis.

Why scientist of the month?

Symbiosis is a fantastic word don’t you think? Well we have to thank (at least in part) Margulis for such a word. Her life’s work was centred on the idea of organisms in association with each other. The relationship could be beneficial to one or more of the organisms but it could also be unfavourable. The scientific community in the 1980s were highly sceptical of this idea. Most were more agreed to the Darwin “survival of the fittest” way of looking things even though the two ideas do work in harmony.

Her main work was on the endosymbiotic theory. This theory is about the origin of eukaryotic cells (cells with a nucleus). To condense the theory somewhat it suggests that mitochondria and chloroplasts were once there own independent bacteria. Then they merged with other cells to become the eukaryotic cell we know and love today. At the time many thought that the theory was completely wacky but now its widely accepted.

She also worked on another hypothesis called the Gaia hypothesis. This proposes that Earth can be viewed as one singular self regulating organism. It goes on to say that everything on Earth relies on each and that the life forms actively regulate the Earth to maintain conditions best for them.

By now you might realise that I like to conclude these on a quote from the scientist 220px-Lynn_Margulisthemselves, honestly there were so many from this lady that I found it hard to pick one. Nevertheless to conclude here is my favourite quote from Margulis:

“Life on earth is such a good story you cannot afford to miss the beginning… Beneath our superficial differences we are all of us walking communities of bacteria. The world shimmers, a pointillist landscape made of tiny living beings.”

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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