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A Darwinian approach to major transitions in evolution: Evolution of individuality in the volvocine green algae.The major landmarks in the evolution of biological complexity are a series of evolutionary transitions in individuality as represented in the hierarchy of life. To understand this hierarchy, we must explain how groups of individuals (e.g., cells) evolve into new kinds of individuals (e.g., multicellular organisms). In this paper, I present results of mathematical models and an experimental system (the evolution of multicellularity in volvocine green algae) that can help us understand how Darwinian properties, such as reproduction, arise at a new level of organization, and thus how one of life’s most familiar properties—its hierarchical organization—evolved.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona