The gene, found in all complex organisms, including plants and animals, encodes for a large group of enzymes known as protein kinases that enabled cells to be larger and to rapidly transfer information from one part to another.

"If the duplications and subsequent mutations of this gene during evolution did not happen, then life would be completely different today," said Steven Pelech, a Professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"The most advanced life on our planet would probably still be bacterial slime," said Pelech. Plants, animals, mushrooms and more all exist because they are made up of eukaryotic cells that are larger and far more complex than bacteria.

Inside of these eukaryotic cells are hundreds of organelles that perform diverse functions to keep them living, just as different organs do for the human body. The new research identified the gene that gave rise to protein kinases.

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