News & AnalysisDevelopmental Biology

Multicellularity Driven by Bacteria

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Science  03 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6094, pp. 510
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6094.510

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Microscopic plankton called choanoflagellates have led to an uncommon insight into how multicellular organisms might have evolved. Bacteria can prompt single-celled choanoflagellates to divide into multicellular versions of themselves, biologists reported last week at the 71st annual meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology. The researchers hope the work will prompt biologists to look more closely at the role of microorganisms in the evolution of multicellularity.

  • * Jennifer Carpenter is a journalist based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter: @JennyCarpy.