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A comparative genomic analysis into the origin of metazoan multicellularity

Objective

The emergence of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors is one of the most profound evolutionary steps in life’s history. However, and despite its importance, little is known about this pivotal evolutionary event. Interestingly, the emergence of multicellular organisms has occurred several times independently within the eukaryotes, such as in animals, fungi and plants. In this context, the super-group known as the Opisthokonts offers a unique evolutionary window to investigate the unicell-to-multicell transition because it comprises two multicellular eukaryotic kingdoms (Animals and Fungi) and several single-celled lineages. The goal of this project is to perform a comparative genomic analysis to further investigate into the origin of multicellularity within metazoans. Although genomic and functional studies are currently being performed in basal and derived metazoans, among the animal unicellular ancestors, choanoflagellates remain the only lineage to be extensively studied. This project aims to fill this gap by providing a genomic and molecular investigation into two additional unicellular lineages recently shown to be closely related to animals: Capsaspora owczarzaki and the ichthyosporean Sphaeroforma arctica. Thus, the specific goals of this project are: 1) to analyze the complete genome sequence of the unicellular opisthokonts Capsaspora and Sphaeroforma; and 2) to launch a new functional genomics platform of both Capsaspora and Sphaeroforma, in where to elucidate the “ancestral function” of genes relevant to multicellularity. A broad range of researchers (including the “evo-devo” community, eukaryotic microbiologists and molecular evolutionists) will benefit from the data generated within this project. Surely, this research will not only largely improve our understanding of a major biological question (the origin/s of multicellularity) but will also provide an evolutionary insight into the evolution of key proteins relevant to human health.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/mycology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/microbiology/mycology/ethnomycology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/biochemistry/biomolecules/proteins
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/genome
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history

Call for proposal

ERC-2007-StG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA
Address
Gran Via De Les Corts Catalanes 585
08007 Barcelona
Spain
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 211 275
Principal investigator
Inaki Ruiz Trillo (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Xavier Gutierrez (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA
Spain
EU contribution
€ 1 211 275
Address
Gran Via De Les Corts Catalanes 585
08007 Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Inaki Ruiz Trillo (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Xavier Gutierrez (Mr.)