23 Scopus citations


The transition of life from single cells to more complex multicellular forms has occurred at least two dozen times among eukaryotes and is one of the major evolutionary transitions, but the early steps that enabled multicellular life to evolve and thrive remain poorly understood. Volvocine green algae are a taxonomic group that is uniquely suited to investigating the step-wise acquisition of multicellular organization. The multicellular volvocine species Volvox carteri exhibits many hallmarks of complex multicellularity including complete germ-soma division of labor, asymmetric cell divisions, coordinated tissue-level morphogenesis, and dimorphic sexes - none of which have obvious analogs in its closest unicellular relative, the model alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Here, I summarize some of the key questions and areas of study that are being addressed with Volvox carteri and how increasing genomic information and methodologies for volvocine algae are opening up the entire group as an integrated experimental system for exploring the evolution of multicellularity and more.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • Comparative genomics
  • Green algae
  • Morphogenesis
  • Multicellularity
  • Volvox carteri


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