The Evolution of Self During the Transition to Multicellularity

  • Aurora M. Nedelcu
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 738)


The notion of ’ self’ is intrinsically linked to the concepts of identity and individuality. During evolutionary transitions in individuality—such as, for instance, during the origin of the first cell, the origin of the eukaryotic cell and the origin of multicellular individuals—new kinds of individuals emerged from the interaction of previously independent entities. The question discussed here is: How can new types of individuals with qualities that cannot be reduced to the properties of their parts be created at a higher level? This question is addressed in the context of the transition to multicellularity and using the volvocine green algae—a group of closely related unicellular and multicellular species with various degrees of physiological and reproductive unity—as a model system. In this chapter, we review our framework to addressing the evolution of individuality during the transition to multicellularity, focusing on the reorganization of general life-traits and cellular processes and the cooption of environmentally-induced responses.


Somatic Cell Cyclic Electron Transport Unicellular Form Volvocine Alga Multicellular Form 
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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurora M. Nedelcu
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

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