News of the WeekGenetics

Volvox Genome Shows It Doesn't Take Much to Be Multicellular

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 128-129
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.128-a

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How a single cell made the leap to a complex organism is one of life's great mysteries. Biologists have thought that new genes and gene networks would be needed to make possible the move to multicellularity. But, at least in green algae, that turns out not to be the case. On page 223 of this week's issue of Science, a comparison between the genomes of the 2000-cell Volvox carteri and a single-celled green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, has revealed surprisingly few differences in their gene makeup.