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Origins of Multicellularity

Initiative Rationale

The most basic aspects of human development and genetic structures can be mapped back to the common single-celled ancestors that animals shared with fungi. How did multicellularity evolve? What are the genes and gene families associated with the advent of multicellularity? How does this compare between two different major clades that underwent this transition (animals and fungi)? The comparison of these organisms to protists will provide the most complete picture of basic developmental mechanisms.

Selected divergent fungal, animal, and protest genomes will be sequenced at high coverage for the purpose of comparative analysis. The organisms selected for sequencing will fill crucial gaps in the knowledge of animal and fungal evolution. A complete rationale for this initiative is available at Animals and Fungi: Common Origin, But Independent Approaches to Multicellularity PDF file.

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Active Sequencing Projects

  • For more information on the progress of all sequencing projects, including the rest of the Comparative Genome Evolution projects, please see Approved Sequencing Targets.

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Program Contacts

Adam Felsenfeld, Ph.D.
Program Director
E-mail: felsenfa@mail.nih.gov

Jane Peterson, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Division of Extramural Research
E-mail: petersoj@mail.nih.gov

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Last Reviewed: May 24, 2012