A model for the origin of group reproduction during the evolutionary transition to multicellularity

Odile Maliet, Deborah E. Shelton, Richard E. Michod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the evolution ofmulticellular organisms, the unit of selection and adaptation, the individual, changes fromthe single cell to themulticellular group. To become individuals, groups must evolve a group life cycle in which groups reproduce other groups. Investigations into the origin of group reproduction have faced a chicken-and-egg problem: Traits related to reproduction at the group level often appear both to be a result of and a prerequisite for natural selection at the group level. With a focus on volvocine algae, we model the basic elements of the cell cycle and show how group reproduction can emerge through the coevolution of a life-history trait with a trait underpinning cell cycle change. Our model explains howevents in the cell cycle become reordered to create a group life cycle through continuous change in the cell cycle trait, but only if the cell cycle trait can coevolve with the life-history trait. Explaining the origin of group reproduction helps us understand one of life's most familiar, yet fundamental, aspects-its hierarchical structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20150157
JournalBiology letters
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • Cell cycle
  • Coevolution
  • Group reproduction
  • Individuality
  • Multicellularity
  • Volvocine algae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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