One-celled life possessed tools for going multicellular | Science News

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One-celled life possessed tools for going multicellular

Amoeba uses some of same molecular machinery as more complex organisms

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12:00pm, October 13, 2016
unicellular organism

MOLECULAR TOOLKIT  Capsaspora owczarzaki, a unicellular organism closely related to animals, uses molecular tools shared by multicellular organisms to move through its different life stages.

Scaling up from one cell to many may have been a small step rather than a giant leap for early life on Earth. A single-celled organism closely related to animals controls its life cycle using a molecular toolkit much like the one animals use to give their cells different roles, scientists report October 13 in Developmental Cell.

“Animals are regarded as this very special branch, as in, there had to be so many innovations to be an animal,” says David Booth, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley who wasn’t part of the study. But this research shows “a lot of the machinery was there millions of years before animals evolved.”

Multicellular organisms need to be able to send messages between their cells and direct them to particular roles within the body. That requires a great deal of cell-to-cell coordination — something that

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