Send to

Choose Destination
Yeast. 2017 Oct;34(10):399-406. doi: 10.1002/yea.3241. Epub 2017 Aug 25.

Division of labour in the yeast: Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Author information

Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 7, Krakow, Poland.
Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 13, DK-2100, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Centre for Social Evolution, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Division of labour between different specialized cell types is a central part of how we describe complexity in multicellular organisms. However, it is increasingly being recognized that division of labour also plays an important role in the lives of predominantly unicellular organisms. Saccharomyces cerevisiae displays several phenotypes that could be considered a division of labour, including quiescence, apoptosis and biofilm formation, but they have not been explicitly treated as such. We discuss each of these examples, using a definition of division of labour that involves phenotypic variation between cells within a population, cooperation between cells performing different tasks and maximization of the inclusive fitness of all cells involved. We then propose future research directions and possible experimental tests using S. cerevisiae as a model organism for understanding the genetic mechanisms and selective pressures that can lead to the evolution of the very first stages of a division of labour.


altruism; cell types; cooperation; differentiation; sociomicrobiology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center