Topological constraints in early multicellularity favor reproductive division of labor

Abstract

Reproductive division of labor (e.g., germ-soma specialization) is a hallmark of the evolution of multicellularity, signifying the emergence of a new type of individual and facilitating the evolution of increased organismal complexity. A large body of work from evolutionary biology, economics, and ecology has shown that specialization is beneficial when further division of labor produces an accelerating increase in absolute productivity (i.e., productivity is a convex function of specialization). Here we show that reproductive specialization is qualitatively different from classical models of resource sharing, and can evolve even when the benefits of specialization are saturating (i.e., productivity is a concave function of specialization). Through analytical theory and evolutionary individual-based simulations, we demonstrate that reproductive specialization is strongly favored in sparse networks of cellular interactions that reflect the morphology of early, simple multicellular organisms, highlighting the importance of restricted social interactions in the evolution of reproductive specialization.

Data availability

All evolutionary simulations and other computations associated with this work are available at github.com/dyanni3/topologicalConstraintsSpecialization; all parameters used in the current study are specified so all simulations can be repeated exactly.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. David Yanni

    School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Shane Jacobeen

    School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
    For correspondence
    shane.jacobeen@gatech.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Pedro Márquez-Zacarías

    School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Joshua S Weitz

    School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. William C Ratcliff

    School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
    For correspondence
    william.ratcliff@gatech.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Peter J Yunker

    School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, United States
    For correspondence
    peter.yunker@gatech.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-8471-4171

Funding

National Science Foundation (IOS-1656549)

  • William C Ratcliff
  • Peter J Yunker

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Raymond E Goldstein, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Version history

  1. Received: December 11, 2019
  2. Accepted: September 17, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 17, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: November 3, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Yanni et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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  1. David Yanni
  2. Shane Jacobeen
  3. Pedro Márquez-Zacarías
  4. Joshua S Weitz
  5. William C Ratcliff
  6. Peter J Yunker
(2020)
Topological constraints in early multicellularity favor reproductive division of labor
eLife 9:e54348.
https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.54348

Share this article

https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.54348

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