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Researchers discover new organism: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life

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Posted September 19, 2013
Researchers at the University of Arkansas have discovered and characterized a new organism that will help scientists understand the molecular mechanisms and ancestral genetic toolkit that enabled animals and fungi to evolve into diverse, multicellular life forms.
Researchers discover new organism: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life
Jeff Silberman, University of Arkansas.
 

Jeffrey Silberman, a professor of biological sciences, isolated a new unicellular anaerobic eukaryote, and worked with former graduate student Matt Brown and others in the lab of Andrew Roger at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Cananda, on the genomics and description of this organism, which they named Pygsuia biforma. Brown, now a biology professor at Mississippi State University, is the lead author of the study, which was published August 28 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“The importance of this finding is that it helps us decipher how multicellularity evolved,” Silberman said. “It demonstrates that some genes and proteins that most people think are specific to being multicellular in animals are already present in their unicellular relatives. It is as if the genetic toolkit for becoming multicellular was assembled and modified bit by bit in the single-cell lineages that share a common ancestry with animals.”

 

Read more at: Phys.org

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