Multicellular Development

A new finding recently at the University of Queensland has unearthed some secrets about the origins of multi-cellular animals. As you all know, a multi-cellular organism is composed of multiple cells, just like us humans, but at first life was unicellular.

Professor Bernie Degnan used new technology to find out that the first multi-cellular animals were an aggregation of cells that can transform functions and cell type, much like stem cells.

Animals have much more cell types compared to organisms of different kingdoms such as plants and fungi, and this wide range allows for the kingdom of animalia to have such diversity.

Stem Cell

This evidence disproves the theory that multi-cellular animals evolved from a unicellular spongy ancestor known as a choanocyte. This theory was believed largely because of how similar choanocytes look to unicellular choanoflagellates, which are the closest living relatives of animals.

The next step involved mapping individual cells, sequencing the expressed genes, and comparing the cell types over a period of time. This allowed Professor Degnan’s team to determine the evolutionary history of specific cell types.

Sponge Choanocyte

This discovery was a huge deal in the biological science world today because it could also lead to a better understanding of how stem cells work, and therefore lead to greater understanding of cancer cells as well.

Written By: Neil 6/15/2019


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