Lab yeast make evolutionary leap to multicellularity
Original Article by Bob Holmes, June 23rd 2011
IN JUST a few weeks single-celled yeast have evolved into a multicellular organism, complete with division of labour between cells. This suggests that the evolutionary leap to multicellularity may be a surprisingly small hurdle.
Multicellularity has evolved at least 20 times since life began, but the last time was about 200 million years ago, leaving few clues to the precise sequence of events. To understand the process better, William Ratcliff and colleagues at the University of Minnesota in St Paul set out to evolve multicellularity in a common unicellular lab organism, brewer’s yeast.