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Reconstructing the origins of animal multicellularity using experimental evolution

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "MULTICELLEXPEVO" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: CALLE SERRANO 117
city: MADRID
postcode: 28006

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Spain [ES]
 Total cost 158˙121 €
 EC max contribution 158˙121 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.3.2. (Nurturing excellence by means of cross-border and cross-sector mobility)
 Code Call H2020-MSCA-IF-2016
 Funding Scheme MSCA-IF-EF-ST
 Starting year 2018
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2018-09-01   to  2020-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 


 Project objective

All living animals are descended from a single-celled ancestor. Understanding how this ancestor became the first multicellular animal remains a major challenge in the field of evolutionary biology. Phylogenomic analyses have shown that animals are closely related to three unicellular lineages: choanoflagellates, filastereans and ichthyosporeans, altogether forming the Holozoa clade. Genetic and phenotypic studies have shown that the filasterean Capsaspora owczarzaki can under specific growth conditions form transient multicellular aggregates. However, why is this multicellularity only transient? What are the genetic and phenotypic requirements for its emergence and stabilization? And what is the role of the actin cytoskeleton in this transition? Indeed the actin cytoskeleton is known for its pivotal role for cell coordination and morphology, which must play a role in evolution of multicellularity. To address these questions, we will use the C. owczarzaki as a model organism. We will combine cell biology, genomics and experimental evolution to unravel multicellularity emergence and stabilization. Specifically, we will aim to obtain evolved mutants showing excessive and more stable multicellular behaviour of C. owczarzaki using long-term experimental evolution. Such evolved strains would unravel how multicellularity emerged and stabilized. In addition, using random mutagenesis screen, we aim to identify mutants unable to form multicellular aggregates. Such mutants would reveal the minimum genetic requirements for such a transition. Finally, we will take advantage of recently developed genetic tools in C. owczarzaki to study the actin cytoskeleton during the cell cycle. Our results could reveal how the first multicellular ancestor of animals appeared from a genetic and cellular perspective, and, how cell fate specification was established during evolution. Results generated on this fellowship will be relevant to evolutionary, cell and developmental biologists.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 Omaya Dudin, Andrej Ondracka, Xavier Grau-Bové, Arthur AB Haraldsen, Atsushi Toyoda, Hiroshi Suga, Jon Bråte, Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo
A unicellular relative of animals generates a layer of polarized cells by actomyosin-dependent cellularization
published pages: , ISSN: 2050-084X, DOI: 10.7554/elife.49801
eLife 8 2020-03-03

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The information about "MULTICELLEXPEVO" are provided by the European Opendata Portal: CORDIS opendata.

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