Minor variations in multicellular life cycles have major effects on adaptation

Isaksson, H., Brännström, Å., & Libby, E. (2023). Minor variations in multicellular life cycles have major effects on adaptation. PLoS Computational Biology 19 (4) e1010698. 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010698.

[thumbnail of journal.pcbi.1010698.pdf]
journal.pcbi.1010698.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (2MB) | Preview


Multicellularity has evolved several independent times over the past hundreds of millions of years and given rise to a wide diversity of complex life. Recent studies have found that large differences in the fundamental structure of early multicellular life cycles can affect fitness and influence multicellular adaptation. Yet, there is an underlying assumption that at some scale or categorization multicellular life cycles are similar in terms of their adaptive potential. Here, we consider this possibility by exploring adaptation in a class of simple multicellular life cycles of filamentous organisms that only differ in one respect, how many daughter filaments are produced. We use mathematical models and evolutionary simulations to show that despite the similarities, qualitatively different mutations fix. In particular, we find that mutations with a tradeoff between cell growth and group survival, i.e. "selfish" or "altruistic" traits, spread differently. Specifically, altruistic mutations more readily spread in life cycles that produce few daughters while in life cycles producing many daughters either type of mutation can spread depending on the environment. Our results show that subtle changes in multicellular life cycles can fundamentally alter adaptation.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Exploratory Modeling of Human-natural Systems (EM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2023 09:19
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 14:06
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/18738

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item