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J Theor Biol. 2018 Nov 14;457:170-179. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.08.038. Epub 2018 Aug 30.

Selection for synchronized cell division in simple multicellular organisms.

Author information

1
Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Electronic address: jolejarz@fas.harvard.edu.
2
Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Electronic address: kkavehmaryan@fas.harvard.edu.
3
Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Electronic address: carlveller@fas.harvard.edu.
4
Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; Department of Mathematics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Electronic address: martin_nowak@harvard.edu.

Abstract

The evolution of multicellularity was a major transition in the history of life on earth. Conditions under which multicellularity is favored have been studied theoretically and experimentally. But since the construction of a multicellular organism requires multiple rounds of cell division, a natural question is whether these cell divisions should be synchronous or not. We study a population model in which there compete simple multicellular organisms that grow by either synchronous or asynchronous cell divisions. We demonstrate that natural selection can act differently on synchronous and asynchronous cell division, and we offer intuition for why these phenotypes are generally not neutral variants of each other.

KEYWORDS:

Cell division; Evolutionary dynamics; Multicellularity; Synchronization

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