The hydrogen hypothesis for the first eukaryote

Nature. 1998 Mar 5;392(6671):37-41. doi: 10.1038/32096.


A new hypothesis for the origin of eukaryotic cells is proposed, based on the comparative biochemistry of energy metabolism. Eukaryotes are suggested to have arisen through symbiotic association of an anaerobic, strictly hydrogen-dependent, strictly autotrophic archaebacterium (the host) with a eubacterium (the symbiont) that was able to respire, but generated molecular hydrogen as a waste product of anaerobic heterotrophic metabolism. The host's dependence upon molecular hydrogen produced by the symbiont is put forward as the selective principle that forged the common ancestor of eukaryotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Archaea* / metabolism
  • Bacteria* / metabolism
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Plastids
  • Symbiosis*


  • Hydrogen
  • Oxygen