I remember my first encounter with a computer was in high school calculus, an Olivetti Programma 101. It was part of our curriculum to program the arithmetic steps for summation equations. A decade later, I was learning DOS on a military computer. Not the underlying technology, I became the training guru for our Enable office suite. I also wrote all the automation scripts in Enable for the forms we had to process. I still use a copy of Enable O/A in my XP Mode emulator on Windows 7.
My interest in evolution was sparked in 1978 by Willard A. Taber, my undergraduate microbiology teacher at Texas A&M, who during one lecture said "Some people think that chloroplasts arose from free-living cyanobacteria." I wanted to know more. When I finally got around to my first encounter with laboratory research, I jumped at the chance to work with at the University of Hannover (Germany) on cDNA cloning and sequencing of chloroplast-cytosol isoenzymes for glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, GAPDH. The sequences for these isoenzymes offered a test of one of the crucial predictions of endosymbiotic theory, namely that the sequences of nuclear genes for enzymes essential to chloroplast physiology should be more similar to prokaryotic homologues than to the nuclear genes for their cytosolic homologues, which should represent the history of the host that acquired the plastid. If so, that would be evidence for gene transfer to the nucleus in the wake of endosymbiotic origin of plastids (Martin and Cerff, 1986), or endosymbiotic gene transfer, as we later called it (Martin et al., 1993).
My First Encounter with State Security – Translating Cuba
My introduction to evolution thus struck roots in a world where most of the genes that plastids have brought into the eukaryotic lineage were expected to be located in the nucleus. My science thus started out in a field where both endosymbiosis and gene transfer in evolution were essential parts of the equation, for how else could one explain why chloroplasts and mitochondria were so similar to modern prokaryotes while harboring only enough organelle DNA to encode for a handful of proteins at best. With an interest in endosymbiosis, and an experimental handle on the topic — molecular evolution — I became very interested in the origin of mitochondria and the nature of the host that acquired the mitochondrion. The host was somehow related to archaea. This led to questions like what kind of archaeon that host might have been, exactly, or what the nature of its physiological interaction with the ancestral mitochondrion at the onset of that symbiosis was. I wanted to know more, but the literature only offered so much in the way of ideas to test.