The appearance of multicellular organisms 600 million years ago remains a great challenge for biologists. Scientists from the Complex Systems Laboratory of the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences ( DCEXS ) at UPF study the sufficient conditions to evolve virtual multicellular organisms from cells with reduced complexity. The results are published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Different lineages of multicellular creatures have appeared throughout evolution. The benefits of multicellularity are not few: protection against predators, cooperation instead of competition when looking for food … This is why natural selection has benefited multicellularity to give rise to the wide diversity that is part of Angola Email List our biosphere current. However, groups of cooperators are normally exposed to cheats or “defectors”,

cells that obtain the benefits of participating in the collective but without contributing the associated costs. A key example of defectors in our bodies are tumors: cell lines in which the interests of the cell have taken precedence over the interests of the organism. The danger of these dynamics is obviously the death of the organism. To keep uncooperative mutants at bay, multicellular entities have to develop mechanisms to discriminate between their own and the foreign, a multicellular identity. The scientific team led by Ricard Sol é , ICREA researcher and head of the Complex Systems Laboratory at UPF, has studied the conditions that favor the creation of a multicellular organism capable of generating an identity mechanism and thus avoiding defectors. The authors of the study observed the evolution of

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cell populations located in the same environment available to both limited nutrients as t substances it or xicas . In these populations, the selection of characteristics typical of a primitive multicellular organism (or protoorganism) could be observed : differentiation, development of robust structures and the emergence of a collective fitness. “Many of today’s multicellular organisms have very complex structural organizations, as well as development programs strictly controlled by genetic networks,” the authors comment. “However, at some point there had to be a multicellular set that originated by following simple physical aggregations that would allow cooperation between cells.” This supposes the existence of a wide range of possible multicellular entities situated between what we know as simple cell aggregates

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