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Multicellular evolution not linear

New genetic analyses show that multicellularity was gained -- and lost -- several times in the blue-green algae

Carrie Arnold
Multicellular blue-green algae made the transition from single-celled to multi-celled not once, but several times over the course of history, according to a study published last week (February 14) in BMC Evolutionary Biology, giving support to the idea that the evolution of multicellularity may not have been as big of an evolutionary leap as scientists once believed.
Cyanobacteria bloom
Image: Wikimedia commons, Lamiot
"Simple multicellularity has evolved a number of times within the bacteria and as many as two dozen times within the eukaryotes," paleobiologist linkurl:Andrew Knoll;http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/knoll/knoll-oeb.html of Harvard University, who was not involved in the research, said in an email, but relatively little is known about how that transition occurs. This paper provides an "explicit phylogenetic reconstruction" of one group that has evolved multicellular forms, and shows that it's not a simple linear progression of complexity.In cyanobacteria, "multicellularity is easy to lose and regain," agreed linkurl:Bettina Schirrmeister;http://www.ieu.uzh.ch/staff/phd/schirrmeister.html of...
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