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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

5. Multicellular Fauna and Flora Organisms

Koseska, Aneta, et al. Cooperative Differentiation through Clustering in Multicellular Populations. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 263/2, 2010. A European team quantifies the importance of intercellular communication and functional variability to the formation of globally collective, viable cellular societies.

Larson, Ben, et al. Biophysical Principles of Choanoflagellate Self-Organization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117/1303, 2020. UC Berkeley and Harvard biologists including Nicole King describe how these cellular cousins are likewise moved by and exemplify these common formative agencies, as they proceed toward multicellular developments. Once again a natural genesis uses the same independent source system at each instance.

Comparisons among animals and their closest living relatives, the choanoflagellates, have begun to shed light on the origin of animal multicellularity and development. Here, we complement previous genetic perspectives on this process by focusing on the biophysical principles underlying choanoflagellate colony morphology and morphogenesis. Our study reveals the crucial role of the extracellular matrix in shaping the colonies and leads to a phase diagram that delineates the range of morphologies as a function of the biophysical mechanisms at play. (Significance)

The choanoflagellates are a group of free-living unicellular and colonial flagellate eukaryotes considered to be the closest living relatives of the animals. Choanoflagellates are collared flagellates having a funnel shaped collar of interconnected microvilli at the base of a flagellum.

Li, Xuhung, et al. Compartmentalization of Metabolism between Cell Types in Multicellular Organisms. Current Opinion in Systems Biology. 29/100407, 2022. By way of the latest computational methods, UM Medical School, Worcester researchers find that life’s vivifying anatomy and physiology is arrayed from genomes and cells all the way to animals and ourselves. A philoSophia view then wonders where such actual features as nested modular units, wholes within emergent wholes, symbiotic unions came from in the first place. However might we peoples be able to realize that all this phenomena reveals a greater genesis with its own animate existence.

In multicellular organisms, metabolism is compartmentalized at many levels, including tissues and organs, different cell types, and subcellular phases. In this way, a coordinated homeostatic system is created where each unit contributes to the production of energy and biomolecules to carry out specific metabolic tasks. Here we show that computational methods with integrative metabolic network modeling and omics data offers an opportunity to reveal metabolic states at the level of organs, tissues and individual cells. (Abstract excerpt)

Libby, Eric and Paul Rainey. A Conceptual Framework for the Evolutionary Origins of Multicellularity. Physical Biology. 10/3, 2013. Massey University, New Zealand, and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany, researchers help explain life’s inherent persistence to form nested wholes of corporeal and societal entities, which appear as a “manifest emergence of individuality.” But it continues to be curious that as such a scalar reiteration becomes validated, as it takes this common form of a self-organizing, complex adaptive system, as stuck in the old selection school, no thought of or search for a formative cause has yet occurred. See also Fisher, Roberta, et al, herein.

The evolution of multicellular organisms from unicellular counterparts involved a transition in Darwinian individuality from single cells to groups. A particular challenge is to understand the nature of the earliest groups, the causes of their evolution, and the opportunities for emergence of Darwinian properties. Here we outline a conceptual framework based on a logical set of possible pathways for evolution of the simplest self-replicating groups. Central to these pathways is the recognition of a finite number of routes by which genetic information can be transmitted between individual cells and groups. We describe the form and organization of each primordial group state and consider factors affecting persistence and evolution of the nascent multicellular forms. Implications arising from our conceptual framework become apparent when attempting to partition fitness effects at individual and group levels. These are discussed with reference to the evolutionary emergence of individuality and its manifestation in extant multicellular life—including those of marginal Darwinian status. (Abstract)

Lyons, Nicholas and Roberto Kolter. On the Evolution of Bacterial Multicellularity. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 24/21, 2015. Harvard Medical School microbiologists espouse an integral view of the propensity for myriad organic forms such as microbes to gather and evolve into cellular communities. With the major transitions model as a guide, this recurrent scale is broadly traced from atoms and molecules onto biochemicals and to life’s nested emergence of wholes within wholes. When simpler components mutually combine into multiple entities, many survival benefits accrue as better nutrient utilization, division of labor, environmental resistance, and so on. By this scenario, the persistent ascent toward multicellular complexities is seen as an inevitable result of life’s innate developmental agency. The final paragraph returns to a universe milieu whence the “early and often” rise of terrestrial milticellularity bodes well for similar occurrences on conducive bioplanets.

Maire, Theo and Hyun Youk. Molecular Tuning of Cellular Autonomy Controls the Collective Behavior of Cell Populations. Cell Systems. 1/5, 2015. We cite this entry by Delft University of Technology nanobiologists as still another instance of a viable reciprocity of these bigender individual and communal modes.

Mallet, James, et al. How Reticulated are Species? BioEssays. Online December, 2015. Harvard, Notre Dame, and Indiana University biologists find that the latest genomic analysis techniques are revealing a network-like structure of interactions between prokaryote and eukaryote phylogenies via lateral gene transfer than had been noticed or expected earlier.

Mao, Yanlan and Jeremy Green. Systems Morphodynamics. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 372/20160505, 2017. An introduction by British biologists to an issue with this suggested title to represent current integral understandings of how organisms and evolutions form and flourish in concert.

Marijuan, Pedro, et al. On Eukaryotic Intelligence: Signaling System’s Guidance in the Evolution of Multicellular Organization. Biosystems. Online July, 2013. Zaragosa, Spain, systems biologists continue with colleagues to seek a better understanding of these cellular domains and emergent transitions via their constant informational and semiotic communication processes. As a result, a relative, waxing presence of cognitive qualities can be posited even at these rudimentary stages. With all this going on, it is still curious that “machinery” terms are often used, which for this reason is said to be ‘blind’ to what it is doing. So there remains a urgent natural philosophy to notice and clarify, see for example Daniel Nicholson’s “Organisms ≠ Machines” (2013) above.

In all biological systems, from prokaryotes to eukaryotes – and rather astoundingly even within neuronal synapses themselves – signaling is tightly coupled with gene transcription and protein synthesis. Theoretically, is there any fundamental link between signaling systems and the basic eukaryotic organization/evolution towards increased complexity? An immediate rationale is that the transcriptional machinery, being ‘blind,’ needs massive signaling guidance in order to deploy the adequate genetic circuits, so to fabricate and put into cellular milieu the adequate RNA and protein agents. Thus, signaling means the topological governance of the transcriptional regulatory network, the decision of what parts should activated or should be inhibited, particularly throughout the very fast changes in second messenger concentrations. (15)

From an informational point of view, the cell’s self-constructing machinery may be seen as a realization of von Neumann’s theory of self-constructing machines, which mandates separation between the inner description of the system and its production structure. (16) Biological evolution means two basic characteristics: self-production and communication with the environment. Both aspects are irremediably linked within the basic cell-engine of eukaryotic complexity, and the knowledge on both has increased dramatically during last decades. It is in this sense that an informational updating of venerable “cellular theory” seem possible and necessary. (16) A new informational approach to the self-production and communications processes of living cells, to the informational organization of both prokaryotic and eukaryotic “intelligences,” looks feasible. Many different strands have to be put together, from open systems, to self-organization, to informational architectures of molecular encoding self-production, problem-solving engines, signaling guidance, but it looks a plausible task not far from several of yesteryear: artificial life, natural computing, synthetic life, or bioinformation. (16)

McClusker, Derek.. Cellular Self-Organization. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 31/3, 2020. Two decades into the 21st century, a European Institute of Chemistry and Biology, Bordeaux researcher can post a strong, quantified endorsement of nature’s pervasive propensity to spontaneously organize her/his biochemical, physiological, developmental, metabolic processes across every class and phylum, Here is another instance into the 2020s of a robust proof of an intrinsic ecosmic genesis alongside a olden mechanical fixation that prohibits any such phenomenal qualities.

While the organization of inanimate systems such as gases or liquids is mainly thermodynamically, biological systems exhibit an organization that is far from a well-mixed equilibrium. The variable modes displayed by cells are evident in life’s dynamic processes including development, movement, and division. These anisotropies operate at different phases from the meso- to the nano-scale that can be seen to reflect a self-organization characteristic of living systems. Here, some examples of self-organization underlying cellular variabilities are reviewed. Given the technical challenges of doing this, some successful approaches to study their self-organization will also be considered. (Excerpt)

Self-organization appears to be an intrinsic property of GTPase-driven pathways. Energy dissipation in these systems enables the emergence of a highly dynamic state in which multiple system components become organized in space and time. These properties appear to endow cells with a timely responsiveness to rapid perturbations. It may be too early to perceive and predict general principles of self-organization, but the use of diverse experimental models and approaches is providing insight into Schrödinger’s wonder at the “organism’s astonishing gift of concentrating a ‘stream of order’ on itself”. (147)

Michod, Richard and Denis Roze. Transitions in Individuality. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 264/853, 1997. Noted more elsewhere, biologist Michod’s University of Arizona group contributes to the growing perception of a nested evolutionary scale of integral entities.

The evolution of multicellular organisms is the premier example of the integration of lower levels into a single, higher level individual….We provide an explicit two-locus genetic framework for understanding this transition in terms of the increase of cooperation among cells and the regulation of conflict within the emerging organism. (853)

Mietke, Alexander, et al. Self-Organized Shape Dynamics of Active Surfaces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116/1, 2019. We recall a decade ago when self-organization as a formative force in cellular development was rarely mentioned or factored in. Here MPI Physics of Complex Systems and Technical University of Dresden theorists add to its inherent contribution to physiological function and somatic vitality. May it also be said that some 65 years after WW II, a global human phenomenon can rise Phoenix-like to learn about cosmic life’s self-verification, and to so offset a looming WW III, achieve our common Earthwise understanding and affirmation.

Morphogenesis, the emergence of shape and form in biological systems, is a process that is fundamentally mechanochemical: Shape changes of material are driven by active mechanical forces that are generated by chemical processes, which in turn can be affected by the deformations and flows that occur. We provide a framework that integrates these interactions between the geometry of deforming materials and active processes in them by introducing the shape dynamics of self-organized active surfaces. We show that the tight coupling between surface mechanics and active processes gives rise to the spontaneous formation of nontrivial shapes, shape oscillations, and directed peristaltic motion. Our simple yet general description lays the foundation to explore the regulatory role of shape in morphogenetic processes. (Significance)

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