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Single-celled algae took the leap to multicellularity 200 million years ago

Tags: bioagriculture, university of arizona

[Source: ScienceDaily] - Some algae have been hanging together rather than going it alone much longer than previously thought, according to new research.

Ancestors of Volvox algae made the transition from being a single-celled organism to becoming a multicellular colony at least 200 million years ago, during the Triassic Period.

At that time, Earth was a hot-house world whose inhabitants included tree ferns, dinosaurs and early mammals. Previous estimates had suggested Volvox's ancestors arose only 50 million years ago.

The algae switched to a communal lifestyle in only 35 million years -- "a geological eyeblink," said lead researcher Matthew D. Herron of The University of Arizona in Tucson.

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