Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Evolution. 2009 Feb;63(2):306-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00541.x. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

On the evolution of differentiated multicellularity.

Author information

  • Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA. ma.wi@gmx.at

Abstract

Most conspicuous organisms are multicellular and most multicellular organisms develop somatic cells to perform specific, nonreproductive tasks. The ubiquity of this division of labor suggests that it is highly advantageous. In this article I present a model to study the evolution of specialized cells. The model allows for unicellular and multicellular organisms that may contain somatic (terminally differentiated) cells. Cells contribute additively to a quantitative trait. The fitness of the organism depends on this quantitative trait (via a benefit function), the size of the organism, and the number of somatic cells. The model allows one to determine when somatic cells are advantageous and to calculate the optimum number (or fraction) of reproductive cells. I show that the fraction of reproductive cells is always surprisingly high. If somatic cells are very small, they can outnumber reproductive cells but their biomass is still less than the biomass of reproductive cells. I discuss the biology of primitive multicellular organisms with respect to the model predictions. I find a good agreement and outline how this work can be used to guide further quantitative studies of multicellularity.

PMID:
19154376
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk