Cellular differentiation in Volvox powersii
Grochau-Wright, Zachariah I.
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Volvocine green algae has proven to be a model system for studying multicellularity. The volvocine green algae genus Volvox consists of a wide variety of species that all share a large number of sterile somatic cells, a small amount of reproductive germ cells, and oogamy in sexual reproduction. More specifically, Volvox powersii is uniquely helpful in studying specific features of multicellular volvocine green algae, such as cellular differentiation, due to its more ancestral-like features as an independently derived species. While having two distinct cell types is universal among all Volvox species, the mechanisms by which differentiation occurs varies. While species that undergo asymmetric division, such as V. carteri and V. obversus, have distinguishable germ and somatic cells immediately after division, more ancestral species such as V. powersii undergo symmetric division. Therefore, the cells are indistinguishable until further along in their development. With this information arises the question of what determines whether a cell becomes a large reproductive germ cell or a small sterile somatic cell.
Department of Biology
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