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Rensing at the University of Freiburg, Germany, Vladimir Kapitonov and Jerzy Jurka at the Genetic Information Research Institute in Mountain View, Jeremy Schmutz at the Hudson Alpha Institute in Huntsville, Rüdiger Schmitt at the University of Regensburg, Germany and David Kirk at Washington University in St. One of the big evolutionary questions in life is how and why single cell organisms organized themselves to live in a group, thereby forming multicellular life forms. All multicellular creatures are descended from single-celled organisms.
Simple organic molecules, similar to the nucleotide shown below, are the building blocks of life and must have been involved in its origin.One of the most pivotal steps in evolution-the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms-may not have required as much retooling as commonly believed, found a globe-spanning collaboration of scientists led by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute.revealed that multicellular organisms may have been able to build their more complex molecular machinery largely from the same list of parts that was already available to their unicellular ancestors.Despite the modest increase in genome size, the number of predicted proteins turned out to be very similar for the two organisms (14,566 in ) and no significant differences could be identified in the repertoires of protein domains or domain combinations.Protein domains are parts of proteins that can evolve, function, and exist independently of the rest of the protein chain.One of the most pivotal steps in evolution -- the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms -- may not have required as much retooling as commonly believed, scientists have found.A comparison of the genomes of the multicellular algae Volvox carteri and its closest unicellular relative Chlamydomonas reinhardtii revealed that multicellular organisms may have been able to build their more complex molecular machinery largely from the same list of parts that was already available to their unicellular ancestors.-like ancestor within the last 200 million years, making the two living organisms an appealing model to study the evolutionary changes that brought about multicellularity and cellular differentiation.To gather data for the comparative genomic analysis, the researchers sequenced the 138 million base pair and the sequence divergence between the two is comparable to that between human and chicken."This transition is one of the great evolutionary events that shaped life on earth," says co-first author Simon E. D., a Computationial Scientist at the DOE Joint Genome Institute."It has generated much thought and speculation about what makes multicellular organisms different or more complex than their unicellular ancestors." In most cases the switch from a solitary existence to a communal one happened so long ago-over 500 million years-that the genetic changes enabling it are very difficult to trace.