Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 746825, 25 pages
Research Article

A Short-Term Advantage for Syngamy in the Origin of Eukaryotic Sex: Effects of Cell Fusion on Cell Cycle Duration and Other Effects Related to the Duration of the Cell Cycle—Relationship between Cell Growth Curve and the Optimal Size of the Species, and Circadian Cell Cycle in Photosynthetic Unicellular Organisms

1C/J. A. Moreno Fuentes 21, Ávila, 05400 Arenas de San Pedro, Spain
2C/Pilar de Zaragoza 78 4 A, 28028 Madrid, Spain

Received 28 September 2011; Revised 21 December 2011; Accepted 23 December 2011

Academic Editor: A. Moya

Copyright © 2012 J. M. Mancebo Quintana and S. Mancebo Quintana. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The origin of sex is becoming a vexatious issue for Evolutionary Biology. Numerous hypotheses have been proposed, based on the genetic effects of sex, on trophic effects or on the formation of cysts and syncytia. Our approach addresses the change in cell cycle duration which would cause cell fusion. Several results are obtained through graphical and mathematical analysis and computer simulations. (1) In poor environments, cell fusion would be an advantageous strategy, as fusion between cells of different size shortens the cycle of the smaller cell (relative to the asexual cycle), and the majority of mergers would occur between cells of different sizes. (2) The easiest-to-evolve regulation of cell proliferation (sexual/asexual) would be by modifying the checkpoints of the cell cycle. (3) A regulation of this kind would have required the existence of the G2 phase, and sex could thus be the cause of the appearance of this phase. Regarding cell cycle, (4) the exponential curve is the only cell growth curve that has no effect on the optimal cell size in unicellular species; (5) the existence of a plateau with no growth at the end of the cell cycle explains the circadian cell cycle observed in unicellular algae.