First Signals: The Evolution of Multicellular Development by John Tyler Bonner

By John Tyler Bonner

The huge, immense fresh good fortune of molecular developmental biology has yielded an unlimited quantity of recent info at the info of improvement. lots in order that we danger wasting sight of the underlying rules that practice to all improvement. to chop via this thicket, John Tyler Bonner ponders a second in evolution whilst improvement used to be at its so much basic--the second while signaling among cells all started. even if multicellularity arose a variety of instances, such a lot of these occasions occurred many thousands of years in the past. a number of the info of improvement that we see this present day, even in basic organisms, gathered over a protracted evolutionary timeline, and the preliminary occasions are obscured. The quite basic and easy-to-grow mobile slime molds provide a distinct chance to research improvement at a primitive level and maybe achieve perception into how early multicellular improvement may need started.

via slime molds, Bonner seeks an image of the 1st parts of communique among cells. He asks what we have now discovered by way of taking a look at their developmental biology, together with fresh advances in our molecular figuring out of the method. He then asks what's the most simple manner that polarity and development formation may be completed. to discover the reply, he makes use of types, together with mathematical ones, to generate insights into how cell-to-cell cooperation may have originated. scholars and students within the blossoming box of the evolution of improvement, in addition to evolutionary biologists regularly, should be drawn to what Bonner has to claim in regards to the origins of multicellular development--and hence of the astonishing organic complexity we now observe--and how top to check it.

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This could even apply to the [ 43 ] CHAPTER 3 diatom that is encased in a tube—instead of the adhesive that glues the cells to the substratum, a different set of mutations allowed them to build a cocoon of stiff material around them inside of which they could divide and grow. In these instances, becoming multicellular is the inevitable consequence of the advantage of remaining in one spot. I have said very little about foraminiferans and radiolarians. They are mostly free in the ocean, or pelagic, and as they grow they become multinucleate.

Aerial spore-bearing bodies are also characteristic of terrestrial multicellular prokaryotes: some myxobacteria produce fruiting bodies with prominent stalks while others merely form mounds, and the actinomycetes have chains of spores sticking up into the air. The mechanics of aggregation, which is characteristic of most terrestrial microorganisms, takes two forms: it involves either the gathering of separate uninucleate cells, or the gathering of nuclei and cytoplasm in a multinucleate syncytium.

After fertilization, the zygote grows into a large multinucleate plasmodium that eventually turns into many spore-bearing fruiting bodies. The lower drawings are at low magnifications; the upper ones are greatly magnified. (From Bonner 1980. Copyright  by Princeton University Press. ) [ 33 ] CHAPTER 3 Foraminifera and Radiolaria These are amoebae with beautiful shells made with calcium or silica. They mostly float free in the ocean—a few are sessile. As they grow they become multinucleate, and in the foraminiferans they secrete additional chambers as their size increases.

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