The origins of multicellularity

Image from this [work]

A pivotal innovation for life on earth was the evolution of multicellularity. This was not a singular event but rather evolved in dozens of independent lineages. Understanding what led to the evolution of multicellularity is challenging; however, because the origins of multicellularity occurred millions of years ago and are largely absent from the fossil record. Recent experiments make it possible to study this pivotal event in the lab by using microorganisms to evolve primitive multicellularity de novo . Such experimental systems provide excellent opportunities to test hypotheses about the conditions that facilitated the evolution of multicellularity. We collaborate with talented experimentalists like William Ratcliff to marry theory with empirical results and uncover general principles of how life evolves to be multicellular.

Eric Libby
Eric Libby
Associate professor

My research addresses how simple organisms evolve to be complex.