Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Unicellular-Multicellular Evolutionary Branching Driven by Resource Limitations

Version 1 : Received: 25 December 2021 / Approved: 28 December 2021 / Online: 28 December 2021 (18:16:42 CET)

How to cite: Bonforti, A.; Sole, R. Unicellular-Multicellular Evolutionary Branching Driven by Resource Limitations. Preprints 2021, 2021120459 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202112.0459.v1). Bonforti, A.; Sole, R. Unicellular-Multicellular Evolutionary Branching Driven by Resource Limitations. Preprints 2021, 2021120459 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202112.0459.v1).

Abstract

Multicellular life forms have evolved many times in our planet, suggesting that this is a common evolutionary innovation. Multiple advantages have been proposed for multicellularity (MC) to emerge. In this paper we address the problem of how the first precondition for multicellularity, namely "stay together" might have occurred under spatially limited resources exploited by a population of unicellular agents. Using a minimal model of evolved cell-cell adhesion among growing and dividing cells that exploit a localised resource with a given size, we show that a transition occurs at a critical resource size separating a phase of evolved multicellular aggregates from a phase where unicellularity (UC) is favoured. The two phases are separated by an intermediate domain where where both UC and MC can be selected by evolution. This model provides a minimal approach to the early stages that were required to transition from Darwinian individuality to cohesive groups of cells associated with a physical cooperative effect: when resources are present only in a localised portion of the habitat, MC is a desirable property as it helps cells to keep close to the available local nutrients.

Keywords

evolutionary transitions; multicellularity; cell adhesion; evolutionary preconditions; statistical physics

Subject

BIOLOGY, Other

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