Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New organism discovered: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life

Date:
September 17, 2013
Source:
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Summary:
Researchers have discovered and characterized a new organism that will help scientists understand the molecular mechanisms and ancestral genetic toolkit that enabled animals and fungi to evolve into diverse, multicellular life forms.

Jeff Silberman, University of Arkansas.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Researchers at the University of Arkansas have discovered and characterized a new organism that will help scientists understand the molecular mechanisms and ancestral genetic toolkit that enabled animals and fungi to evolve into diverse, multicellular life forms.

Related Articles


Jeffrey Silberman, a professor of biological sciences, isolated a new unicellular anaerobic eukaryote, and worked with former graduate student Matt Brown and others in the lab of Andrew Roger at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Cananda, on the genomics and description of this organism, which they named Pygsuia biforma. Brown, now a biology professor at Mississippi State University, is the lead author of the study, which was published August 28 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biology).

"The importance of this finding is that it helps us decipher how multicellularity evolved," Silberman said. "It demonstrates that some genes and proteins that most people think are specific to being multicellular in animals are already present in their unicellular relatives. It is as if the genetic toolkit for becoming multicellular was assembled and modified bit by bit in the single-cell lineages that share a common ancestry with animals."

Silberman and Brown study the origins and relationships among single-celled eukaryotes, which have nucleus, amoebae and flagellates, some of which are parasites. Animals, plants and fungi are all eukaryotes; that is, they have complex cells with organelles such as a nucleus and mitochondria. Eukaryotes and humans have more in common than most people realize, Silberman said.

Silberman and Brown perform comparative DNA sequence analyses of a type of eukaryote called protists to help find their particular placement or branch on the tree of life. By isolating formerly unexamined anaerobic protists -- a diverse group of unicellular microorganisms -- and looking at the independent ways they have formed different types of mitochondria, the researchers hope to reveal essential commonalities among all eukaryotes, perhaps even clues that explain their origin.

Genomic analyses of single cell organisms that are specifically related to multicellular lineages often provide clues to understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in the evolution of multi-cellular life.

To characterize the new organism, which was collected from brackish sediment in Prince Cove in Marstons Mills, Mass., the researchers described the morphology and sequenced the protein-coding genes of the organism to construct a 159-protein matrix for phylogenetic analyses. Phylogenetics is the study of the evolutionary relationships among groups of organisms. The researchers found that the organism resembled two types of a breviate, which is a unicellular eukaryote, but distinguished itself with its conspicuous, long flagella.

Most importantly, the phylogenetic tree established the organism as a distant but unequivocal relative to a "supergroup" of eukaryotes that include fungi and animals. It provides a glimpse of the various components of cell-to-cell adhesion, which is a requirement for multi-cellular organisms. The organism also possesses components of the integrin-mediated adhesion complex, which in animals plays a key role in cell-to-cell signaling and adhesion to the extracellular matrix.

The genus name for Pygsuia biforma is derived from part of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks sports cheer, "Wooo Pig Sooie," because it has a row of structures resembling the dorsal bristles of razorbacks, which are feral pigs. "Pyg" replaces "pig" as a play on the Latin Pygmae, a mythical race of pygmies, a reference to their small size, and "sui" replaces "sooie" for brevity and a reference to the animal family to which suids, the ancient biological family of pigs, belong. Consequently the genus name also means "little pig" in mock Latin. The species name, biforma, is derived from the presence two distinct cell forms that are observed in the life cycle.

A culture sample of Pygsuia biforma has been submitted to the Smithsonian Institution.

The researchers' work was partially funded by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. W. Brown, S. C. Sharpe, J. D. Silberman, A. A. Heiss, B. F. Lang, A. G. B. Simpson, A. J. Roger. Phylogenomics demonstrates that breviate flagellates are related to opisthokonts and apusomonads. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1769): 20131755 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.1755

Cite This Page:

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "New organism discovered: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130917093805.htm>.
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. (2013, September 17). New organism discovered: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130917093805.htm
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. "New organism discovered: Finding will help scientists understand the origins of multicellular life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130917093805.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins