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How Life BeganEvolution's Three Geneses$
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Alexandre Meinesz

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226519319

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226519333.001.0001

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The Lego Game

The Lego Game

The Genesis of Visible Life

(p.142) Chapter 7 The Lego Game
How Life Began

Alexandre Meinesz

University of Chicago Press

The passage from microbial unicellular animal and plant life to multicellular life is easy to imagine; it seems so evident that is not discussed in most evolution books. Nevertheless, it required a series of major innovations, all of which had to be acquired by multicellular organisms. This chapter first presents the environmental causes that oriented life towards complexity, towards multicellularity. Then it describes the various stages of cellular association that led to the emergence of multicellularity, and emphasizes that they were not all predetermined, and there is no tendency towards complexity of life. Finally, the chapter considers the very strange parallelism of multicellularity: the fact that diverse, independent lineages of life all adopted multicellular structure and specialization of cells. Is this coincidence a simple convergence of adaptation to a shared lifestyle? Or does it derive from a shared genetic basis that drives evolution in this direction?

Keywords:   multicellular life, multicellularity, cellular association, origin of life, evolution, adaptation, specialization

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