Major transitions in evolution
The evolution of multicellular entities from unicellular ancestors signalled the emergence of a new level of biological organisation.
It is one of the major transitions in evolution. Despite its importance, there are many open questions surrounding the start of this transition.
In this project, we investigate how this transition could have occurred by constructing stochastic models. These models describe an inherently stochastic process called ecological scaffolding, by which specific ecological conditions can cause individual cells to form groups and endow them with Darwinian properties.
This means the groups show variation in character, differences in reproductive output, and heritability. This is implemented through a multilevel stochastic process which takes place over multiple time scales and includes a bottleneck and dispersal mechanism.
Matthew Cody Nitschke