Margulis' theory on division of labour in cells revisited

Acta Biotheoretica 49 (1):23-28 (2001)
Division of labour is a marked feature of multicellular organisms. Margulis proposed that the ancestors of metazoans had only one microtubule organizing center (MTOC), so they could not move and divide simultaneously. Selection for simultaneous movement and cell division had driven the division of labour between cells. However, no evidence or explanation for this assumption was provided. Why could the unicellular ancetors not have multiple MTOCs? The gain and loss of three possible strategies are discussed. It was found that the advantage of one or two MTOC per cell is environment-dependent. Unicellular organisms with only one MTOC per cell are favored only in resource-limited environments without strong predatory pressure. If division of labour occurring in a bicellular organism just makes simultaneous movement and cell division possible, the possibility of its fixation by natural selection is very low because a somatic cell performing the function of an MTOC is obviously wasting resources. Evolutionary biologists should search for other selective forces for division of labour in cells.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Biology   Evolutionary Biology
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DOI 10.1023/A:1010277405954
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