Geometry shapes evolution of early multicellularity

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Eric LibbyBen Kerr


Organisms have increased in complexity through a series of major evolutionary transitions, in which formerly autonomous entities become parts of a novel higher-level entity. One intriguing feature of the higher-level entity after some major transitions is a division of reproductive labor among its lower-level units. Although it can have clear benefits once established, it is unknown how such reproductive division of labor originates. We consider a recent evolution experiment on the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a unique platform to address the issue of reproductive differentiation during an evolutionary transition in individuality. In the experiment, independent yeast lineages evolved a multicellular “snowflake-like” cluster form in response to gravity selection. Shortly after the evolution of clusters, the yeast evolved higher rates of cell death. While cell death enables clusters to split apart and form new groups, it also reduces their performance in the face of gravity selection. To understand the selective value of increased cell death, we create a mathematical model of the cellular arrangement within snowflake yeast clusters. The model reveals that the mechanism of cell death and the geometry of the snowflake interact...Continue Reading

Related Concepts

Cell Death
Cell Differentiation Process
Cell Growth
Biological Evolution
Gene Clusters
Labor (Childbirth)
Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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