PhD Defense by David Yanni

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Name: David Yanni

School: Physics

Dissertation Title: Topological constraints and division of labor in early multicellularity

Date/Time: Monday November 4th, 1:30 pm 

Location: Howey physics building, room N110




During the evolution of multicellularity, previously independent cells integrate to form a new organism. A critical step in this major evolutionary transition is the origin of reproductive specialization (e.g., germ-soma differentiation). It is widely thought that complete specialization, like many other types of trade, will only evolve when the payoff from differentiation accelerates with further investment. Here we show that reproductive specialization is a special case of asymmetric trade that is adaptive under a far broader set of conditions, and is particularly promoted in multicellular organisms growing with tree-like topologies. This morphology class readily evolves in nascent multicellular organisms, and appears to be ancestral in most lineages that have evolved complex multicellularity, suggesting a causal role between topology and emergent complexity.


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