Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species” as Want to Read:
Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  143 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
How do new species evolve? Although Darwin identified inherited variation as the creative force in evolution, he never formally speculated where it comes from. His successors thought that new species arise from the gradual accumulation of random mutations of DNA. But despite its acceptance in every major textbook, there is no documented instance of it. Lynn Margulis and Do ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 11th 2003 by Basic Books (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Acquiring Genomes, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Acquiring Genomes

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bob Nichols
Margulis and Sagan put forward an alternative to a neo-darwinian theory that states that evolution results from random mutations that are acted upon by the environment (natural selection). Random mutations are mostly detrimental to species demise. The real engine of evolution occurs through "symbiogenesis," which means that two or more separate organisms unite and eventually fuse their genetic structures so that formerly independent entities now have an integrated genome that is passed on throug ...more
Jul 16, 2016 Miles rated it really liked it
I have to preface this review with an important admission, which is that my background in popular science literature has definitely not prepared me to fully comprehend, let alone criticize, the finer scientific arguments presented here. There are whole sections of this book that are inaccessible to me due to esoteric vocabulary alone. Margulis and Sagan appear to have written an intelligent book that is supported with a fair swath of responsible research, but I'm far from able to detect the poin ...more
Bill Leach
Apr 07, 2013 Bill Leach rated it really liked it
Shelves: informative
1 - Darwinism Not NeoDarwinism
- does not agree that mutations are sufficient to allow new species to be created - 99.9% of mutations are deleterious
- symbiosis is the living together of two organisms
- long term stable symbiosis that leads to evolutionary change is symbiogenesis
- in a phylogenetic tree, the fusing of branches is anastomsis
- most animals host symbiotic bacteria and other animals, often depending upon them
- organisms would be better thought of as communities

2 - Darwin's Dilemma
- th
Steve Van Slyke
Jun 02, 2012 Steve Van Slyke rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Dedicated evolutionary science readers
Recommended to Steve by: Author Nick Lane
Shelves: science, kindle, evolution
I went looking for this book after readingPower, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane in which author Margulis is mentioned several times, mostly with regard to her theory that mitochondria were originally bacteria that entered into a symbiotic relationship with another, larger bacteria, the first step to developing the first eukaryote and the ancestor of all visible organisms.

I was a little put off by the tone in parts of the book where the authors disparage many of t
Shea Mastison
Mar 18, 2015 Shea Mastison rated it liked it
I first became aware of Lynn Margulis while reading Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box;" I was heavily skeptical when initially grabbing this, because Behe uses her as a reference to "prove" evolutionary theory is heavily disputed in the scientific community.

However, this book was much more impressive than what I looked to credit it for; while I am a bit suspicious concerning symbiogenesis, I recognize that it is an actual scientific theory.

There were a few moments when the author argues that
Apr 16, 2016 Solveig rated it really liked it
I read this book for a science book club; unlike some of the books we have read it can't be accused of being light on the science. This is one of the good points of the book: it provides numerous examples of its main point that evolutionary variation appears due to symbiogenesis, and these examples come with references. The main bad point of the book is that it is too defensive; I don't work in the field of evolutionary biology, so don't knoe if the defensiveness is understandable from a science ...more
Aug 26, 2010 M rated it it was ok
Margulis (and Dorion Sagan) have a groundbreaking theory about evolution, namely, that new species arise not from lots of minor mutations, but from the acquisition of entire genomes like when a colony of bacteria refuse to be digested and instead survive in the host organism as symbionts. They make their scientific case in this book, but I was hoping it would be a little more geared to the layperson. Specifically, I wish it had more examples of species we are all familiar with and speculation on ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Fleece added it
"I'm finished" as in I'm finished with this book. Got to page ninety and had to ditch it because it was terrible; not the idea, we've been taught symbiogenesis was how chloroplasts and and mitochondria were acquired in plant and animal cells, but i feel like they didn't really connect symbiosis and symbiogenesis- explanations were skimpy and examples didn't go as in depth as I'd like.

Other stuff that annoyed me: defining terms after the fact, 'breathe' used instead of 'uses as electron acceptor'
Apr 06, 2008 Doopa00 rated it liked it
I would like to develop my background in biology and reread this book.

I like to know that people are exploring the assumed "randomness" in evolutionary arguments.

It seems that Margulis provides evidence that micro-organisms play a great role as a mechanism for evolution, however, she does not offer an example of observed speciation by genome transfer (I may have missed something, and if somebody could direct me to an example ).

Cons: Constant denunciation of the neodarwinist made the authors' se
Julie M
Nov 14, 2015 Julie M rated it really liked it
Cleverly and rationally written examination of the endosymbiont theory, but might be difficult to get through for reader without a science background.

Favorite excerpt: "Apparently 'counter-illumination' --a kind of camouflage-- is the reason. Predators from below or potential prey see night sky instead of the tasty little squid belly when they gaze at the mature illuminated squid." (on the luminous squid Euprymna scoleps)
Sep 17, 2008 Solomon rated it really liked it

A fairly revolutionary refutation of neodarwinism (and its principle of blind chance supposedly generating mutations sufficient to create the incredible complexity of existing life-forms); along with a new theory of symbiosis combined with evolutionary leaps through microbial hybridization (rather than neodarwinian gradualism.)

Apr 05, 2008 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
A must-read if you are interested in moving beyond a neodarwinian view of evolution, in which random mutation is purported to lead to all sorts of miracle lifeforms. These iconoclastic authors present what seems plausible evidence from a scientific viewpoint for alternate mechanisms of the advent of new species. Absolutely fascinating.
Aug 26, 2013 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology
This book blew my mind. Margulis has an innovative theory that symbiosis drives speciation, and her collaboration with her writer son makes the explanation lucid (although at least a college intro course in biology is recommended background).
Aug 24, 2009 Bernie_dunham is currently reading it
Recommends it for: My daughters, son-in-laws, and wife.
Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan (son of Carl Sagan) write this book from the perspective of Lovelock's "GAIA Hypothesis/Theory," something that has been of interest to me ever since I first read about it in Stewart Brands's "Whole Earth Catalog" in the mid-1970's.
Dec 26, 2014 Peter rated it it was amazing
Since taking in this work, I have not stopped thinking in different ways about our thermodynamic imperative. I am now armed with a new view on what "life" can mean. It's these moments that keep me searching for that next profound work.
May 22, 2013 Janine rated it really liked it
Lynn supports her symbiotic theory in more detail here. I read this along with her Symbiotic Planet and found them great companion books.
Jan 03, 2015 Stark rated it it was amazing
Literally life changing. Rips off the blinders of Victorian-era cultural constructions of evolution by competition and leaves you seeing a brand new world.
Simone Fouche
Simone Fouche rated it it was amazing
Jul 09, 2016
Daniel Duarte
Daniel Duarte rated it it was amazing
Mar 17, 2016
Darlene rated it it was amazing
Aug 01, 2012
Billie Mulcahy
Billie Mulcahy rated it it was amazing
Oct 25, 2009
Santiago Mirón
Santiago Mirón rated it liked it
Nov 26, 2014
Patricia rated it it was amazing
May 28, 2016
Hello rated it it was amazing
Mar 10, 2013
Teresa rated it really liked it
Aug 06, 2012
Montse Perera
Montse Perera rated it it was amazing
Jul 03, 2016
Faith Jessica
Faith Jessica rated it really liked it
Apr 01, 2011
Mazola1 rated it it was ok
Mar 01, 2008
Grace Pokela
Grace Pokela rated it really liked it
Sep 22, 2015
Ramona Springer
Ramona Springer rated it it was amazing
Jul 30, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language
  • In The Blink Of An Eye: How Vision Sparked The Big Bang Of Evolution
  • Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life
  • The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould
  • Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future
  • The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution
  • Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth
  • Charles Darwin: The Power of Place
  • Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society
  • The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History
  • Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life
  • Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life
  • Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma
  • Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet
  • Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA
  • Adaptation and Natural Selection: A Critique of Some Current Evolutionary Thought
Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) was a Professor of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.
More about Lynn Margulis...

Share This Book

“Although random mutations influenced the course of evolution, their influence was mainly by loss, alteration, and refinement... Never, however, did that one mutation make a wing, a fruit, a woody stem, or a claw appear. Mutations, in summary, tend to induce sickness, death, or deficiencies. No evidence in the vast literature of heredity changes shows unambiguous evidence that random mutation itself, even with geographical isolation of populations, leads to speciation.” 2 likes
More quotes…