Single Cells Evolve Large Multicellular Forms in Just Two Years

Researchers have discovered that environments favoring clumpy growth are all that’s needed to quickly transform single-celled yeast into complex multicellular organisms.


i have not read the article yet, but from past experience we are probably talking about abillity that was already present in the yeast ancestor (that was a yeast). we also need to remember that we are talking about the same cell. so its not realy a new multi-cellular organism, with different types of cells.

We could literally see it happen in front of us, document each step, and creationists would find some reason to say it didn’t happen. Oh wait we did that and that’s exactly what happened.


“single cells evolve large multicellular forms in just [9 months]” - isn’t this how babies are made? :laughing:

Am I missing something?

Ok…now I’ll read the article. :slightly_smiling_face:


They never cease to amaze us.

Amazingly the pictures are top and front, and he’s saying no your eyes are lying to you. How is this not a mental illness?

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Some precision is warranted.

It is a multicellular form. The degree of differentiation and division of labor is low. So it isn’t a multicellular organism. It is, however, a middle ground between a unicellular and multicellular organism.


This is one of those instances where there’s obviously a gradient rather than discreet categories, but also where I think it’s not worth overthinking it; one of the evolved lines had no unicellular stage in its life cycle. It was obligately multicellular, even after the selective pressure driving multicellularity (the predator) was removed. In my book, that’s multicellularity, not just a multicellular form of a unicellular organism.


I see your point, but the linked article isn’t exactly unreasonable. There is still steps needed that weren’t yet recapitulated in this particular experiment.


@thoughtful Wins the Internet! :laughing:


You joke but this is literally an argument Jeanson makes in his book, “Replacing Darwin”. “If a zygote can grow into a frog in [whatever amount of time], then why can’t a single pair of a created kind evolve into [whatever number of extant species] in four thousand years?”


My specific problem with the Dr. Wile bit was that he portrays this experiment as showing non-clonal aggregation - separate individuals clumping up into colonies in response to predation - and nothing more. But that’s NOT the important finding. They also observed clonal masses of cells that never separate following cell division, that propagate via smaller multicellular structures. It’s not just opportunistic clumping, it’s growing from one or several cells into larger multicellular units, generation after generation. If anyone wants to claim that this isn’t multicellularity by making the argument that the individual cells lack specialization and differentiation, that’s a perfectly reasonable argument to make. But Dr. Wile just pretends the central finding of the experiment doesn’t exist.


I thought he did explain this?

I think it’s clear that there are far worse YEC articles out there. He isn’t impressed, but we should not expect him to be impressed. At least in this case it’s a valid and germane distinction he is making.

It’s also a temporary objection. I’d be surprised if they didn’t start to see differentiation at some point.

So why not acknowledge his point, the continuum, and see how things progress. Of course, he might move the goal posts, but that’s why it’s worth being intelligible and coherent at this point.


Whether that’s going to be seen or not – and I’m not sure I would be optimistic about seeing that on a practical-experiment time scale – you know how this works. It is the method of YECism to pooh-pooh everything. If it doesn’t sprout legs and jump out of the pool with a top hat and cane and start singing “True Multicellularity is Here Again,” it will be criticized for that failure. If it does, and fails to hit the high notes, it will be criticized for that failure. The idea that YECs are simply honest people who are waiting for the evidence to be persuasive, at which point they’ll jump, is naive. A bit of differentiation isn’t the same as a lot of differentiation. Two cell types isn’t the same as three cell types. And the opportunity to pooh-pooh will ALWAYS be taken. It will be, “oh, sure, well, everybody thought THAT could happen. But until I see you recapitulate the entire four-billion-year evolutionary history of complex life in a petri dish, it’s just not credible.”


Not given the existence of Dictyostelium, which aggregates, then produces specialized and differentiated cells in about 24 hours, to reproduce.

Multicellularity is a very plastic thing. In ranking the mysteries of life, it doesn’t make the cut.


I did not say it did not happen. im saying that this abillity probably already existed in the yeast ancestor. so its not realy a new abillity. another possibility is that its only a simple change on the genome regulation ,or something related.

As fungi, they do indeed have multicellular ancestors (although I’m not sure you’d buy that, as a YEC). As a mammal, I have marine ancestors who accomplished gas exchange via gills. If marine mammals were to evolve gills, would that be “only a simple change to the genome regulation, or something related”, or would that be a novel complex trait?


I have the Kindle book, so I searched for “frog” and “zygote” and skimmed a couple of relevant chapters and I’m not finding a quote or argument like that. Please reference or delete.

a complex trait, since gills are quite different from lungs (at least as im aware). this case reminds me the blind cave fish case:

and i didnt said im a YEC by the way (i didnt choose my description).

Thanks! The snowflake yeast is really cool, but my latest multicellular form is prettier. :slightly_smiling_face:

I should find that quote now.

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