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Science

+ - Multicellular life made in months->

Submitted by ananyo
ananyo (2519492) writes "The origin of multicellular life, one of the most important developments in Earth’s history, could have occurred with surprising speed, US researchers have shown. In the lab, a single-celled yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) took less than 60 days to evolve into many-celled clusters that behaved as individuals. The clusters even developed a primitive division of labour, with some cells dying so that others could grow and reproduce.

Multicellular life has evolved independently at least 25 times, but these transitions are so ancient that they have been hard to study.

The researchers wanted to see if they could evolve multicellularity in a single-celled organism, using gravity as the selective pressure. In a tube of liquid, clusters of yeast cells settle at the bottom more quickly than single cells. By culturing only the cells that sank, they selected for those that stick together. After many rounds of selection over 60 days, the yeast had evolved into 'snowflakes' comprising dozens of cells.

Many single-celled organisms, including yeast, often form clumps of genetically distinct cells. But Ratcliff’s snowflakes were made up of genetically identical cells that had budded off and stuck together. Many other multicellular organisms may well have evolved through a similar 'divide-and-stick' process."

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Multicellular life made in months

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