Current Research
Elucidating the Origin of Multicellularity in Animals

Nicole King wants to understand the genetic and developmental foundations of animal origins. To do this, King and her team study the closest living relatives of animals, the unicellular choanoglagellates. They are particularly focused on understanding the biology of the choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta, which can alternate between single and multi-celled morphologies in response to a signaling molecule produced by environmental bacteria. Genes shared by choanoflagellates and animals – including signaling and adhesion gene homologs – were likely present in their last common ancestor and may shed light on the transition to multicellularity.

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