1. Evolutionary Biology
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Experimental Evolution: A sticky solution

  1. David Gresham  Is a corresponding author
  1. New York University, United States
Cite this article as: eLife 2013;2:e00655 doi: 10.7554/eLife.00655
1 figure


The budding yeast S. cerevisiae feeds on sucrose that it metabolizes outside the cell using the enzyme invertase, which it secretes into its surroundings.

The breakdown products—glucose and fructose—are then imported into the cell and used to drive growth. If sucrose is in short supply and the density of single cells is low, the cells cannot capture enough of the glucose and fructose to initiate growth (upper panel). Under these conditions, mutations that cause the cells to form undifferentiated multicellular clumps (lower panel) confer an advantage, by increasing the local concentration of glucose and fructose available to cells. Selection for these mutations may lead ultimately to the evolution of multicellularity.


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