Multicellularity

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alextemplet
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Multicellularity

Post by alextemplet » Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:52 pm

I was wondering earlier today why multicellularity has only evolved among eukaryotes, especially since bacteria are known to congregate in specific patterns much like the protists that are believed to be the ancestors of multicellular organisms. Is there something I'm missing about eukaryotes that makes multicellularity possible for them but not for prokaryotes?
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MrMistery
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Post by MrMistery » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:52 pm

Yes: they have a cytoskeleton. Multicellularity could never develop in the absence of a cytoskeleton...
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Re: Multicellularity

Post by MikeS » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:01 pm

The major reason for multicellularity is specialization. First, there's sexual specialization. Bacteria's major form of reproduction fission. For multicellular organisms, the gametes specialize into sperm and egg. Also, prokaryotes can survive as a fully functional unit unicellularly. For eukaryotes, we can't- our skin cells will not jump off our skin one day and decide to live by itself.

So the question becomes, why did specialization evolve? For some ideas, read the lecture notes on plant evolution. It talks about how plants evolved multicellularity. Basically, specialization benefits the organism as a whole and gives them a competitive advantage over their unicellular peers.
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