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Evolution of Biological Complexity

Goldstein, R (Cambridge)
Tuesday 08 June 2010, 17:00-17:50

Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute


One of the most fundamental issues in evolutionary biology is the nature of transitions from unicellular organisms to multicellular ones. Many basic questions arise in this context: What is the advantage of being larger? What are the driving forces behind the appearance of distinct cell types? In this talk I will describe an approach to these broad questions based on the use of a particular lineage of green algae which serves not only as a model for evolutionary studies, but also for biological fluid dynamics. Experimental and theoretical results will be described that focus on the scaling laws for nutrient uptake as a function of size, particularly as affected by fluid flows driven by the flagella of these organisms, the synchronization of those flagella, and the mechanism by which multicellular organisms composed of thousands of cells exhibit accurate phototaxis in the absence of a central nervous system.


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