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How did single cells evolve into multicellular organisms?

By decoding the genomic sequence of one of the simplest of all multi-cellular organisms, the four-celled alga Tetrabaena socialis, a number of genetic mechanisms that control how cells divide were linked with the origin of multi-cellularity



Wits PhD student, Jonathan Featherston, of the Evolution of Complexity Laboratory at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is behind the research. Tetrabaena is a fellow of a lineage of green-algae known as the volvocine lineage. The lineage is a model lineage for understanding how multi-cellularity progressed.


By studying the genome of this simple alga, a number of genetic mechanisms that regulate how cells divide were connected with the origin of multi-cellularity. Featherston has identified the ubiquitin proteasomal pathway (UPP) as a process that plays a key role in the evolution of multi-cellularity. UPP is a complex trail that controls the cellular focus of key proteins that drive cell division and it plays a role in many cellular tasks.