Evolution and regulation of complex life cycles: a brown algal perspective

Current Opinion in Plant Biology
J Mark CockSusana M Coelho


The life cycle of an organism is one of its fundamental features, influencing many aspects of its biology. The brown algae exhibit a diverse range of life cycles indicating that transitions between life cycle types may have been key adaptive events in the evolution of this group. Life cycle mutants, identified in the model organism Ectocarpus, are providing information about how life cycle progression is regulated at the molecular level in brown algae. We explore some of the implications of the phenotypes of the life cycle mutants described to date and draw comparisons with recent insights into life cycle regulation in the green lineage. Given the importance of coordinating growth and development with life cycle progression, we suggest that the co-option of ancient life cycle regulators to control key developmental events may be a common feature in diverse groups of multicellular eukaryotes.


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