Plastids (chloroplasts) have long been recognized to have originated by endosymbiosis of a cyanobacterium, but their subsequent evolutionary history has proved complex because they have also moved between eukaryotes during additional rounds of secondary and tertiary endosymbioses. Much of this history has been revealed by genomic analyses, but some debates remain unresolved, in particular those relating to secondary red plastids of the chromalveolates, especially cryptomonads. Here, I examine several fundamental questions and assumptions about endosymbiosis and plastid evolution, including the number of endosymbiotic events needed to explain plastid diversity, whether the genetic contribution of the endosymbionts to the host genome goes far beyond plastid-targeted genes, and whether organelle origins are best viewed as a singular transition involving one symbiont or as a gradual transition involving a long line of transient food/symbionts. I also discuss a possible link between transporters and the evolution of protein targeting in organelle integration.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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