The evolution of organized multicellularity is one of the most important and least understood transitions in the history of plants and animals. How is it that a single cell could divide and each of the daughter cells begin a separate differentiation process - the stalk rather than the root, or the head rather than the foot?
Many theories and experiments have explored aspects of this question - such as growth in a weightless environment to subtract out gravitational effects. I had performed some such terrestrial experiments on frog embryos suspended and rotated equally along 3D spacial axises utilizing acoustic levitation (University of Utah, NSF grant, 1979).
A new study by Anderson et al., using a technique called "ancestral protein reconstruction", a single marker protein evolved through a series of “molecular exploitation” events to provide a scaffolding for differentiation.
Douglas P Anderson, Dustin S Whitney, Victor Hanson-Smith, Arielle Woznica, William Campodonico-Burnett, Brian F Volkman, Nicole King, Kenneth E PrehodaCorresponding Author, Joseph W ThorntonCorresponding Author
University of Oregon, United States; Medical College of Wisconsin, United States; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, United States; University of Chicago, United States
Published January 7, 2016
- See more at: http://elifesciences.org/content/5/e10147#.dpuf