1. Evolution of Multicellularity in Response to Predation

    Image credit: Jacob Boswell Image credit: None
    Image credit: Jacob Boswell

    The transition from unicellular to multicellular life was one of a few major events in the history of life that created new opportunities for more complex biological systems to evolve. Predation is hypothesized as one selective pressure that may have driven the evolution of multicellularity, as most predators can only consume prey within a narrow range of sizes.

    A team of scientist from University of Montana and Georgia Institute of Technology show that de novo origins of simple multicellularity can evolve in response to predation. They subjected outcrossed populations of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to selection by the filter-feeding predator Paramecium tetraurelia. Two of five experimental populations evolved multicellular structures not observed in unselected control populations within ~750 asexual generations.

    In addition, they show that the evolved multicellular life cycles are stable over thousands of asexual generations in the absence of predators.

    The paper “De novo origins of multicellularity in response to predation” is published in Scientific Reports.

    Image credit: Jacob Boswell Image credit: None
    Image credit: Jacob Boswell

    Source: [Scientific Reports]