Evolution of Simple Multicellularity Increases Environmental Complexity

Multicellularity--the integration of previously autonomous cells into a new, more complex organism--is one of the major transitions in evolution.

Multicellularity changed evolutionary possibilities and facilitated the evolution of increased complexity. Transitions to multicellularity are associated with rapid diversification and increased ecological opportunity but the potential mechanisms are not well understood. In this paper we explore the ecological mechanisms of multicellular diversification during experimental evolution of the brewer's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

The evolution from single cells into multicellular clusters modifies the structure of the environment, changing the fluid dynamics and creating novel ecological opportunities. This study demonstrates that even in simple conditions, incipient multicellularity readily changes the environment, facilitating the origin and maintenance of diversity.


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