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Soft matter physics of the evolution of multicellularity

Date:  Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Time: 4:00pm

Location: 100 Willamette Hall

Speaker: Peter Yunker, Georgia Tech

Abstract: The evolution of multicellularity set the stage for an incredible increase in the diversity and complexity of life on Earth. The increase in biological complexity associated with multicellularity required parallel innovation in the mechanical properties of multicellular bodies. Though a cursory review of any multicellular organism provides an appreciation of this intertwining of biological and mechanical complexity, little is known about how such mechanical properties may have evolved. We hypothesize that prior to the evolution of genetically-regulated development, physics played a key role in initiating simple multicellular development. Through a combination of experimental evolution (which allows us to observe the evolution of multicellularity in the lab, as it occurs), and the tools of soft matter (microscopy, mechanical testing, and more), we show that physics likely played a fundamental role in the evolution of complex multicellularity.

Host: Tristan Ursell

All attendees are invited to attend a colloquium reception in the Willamette Hall, Paul Olum atrium at 3:40pm.

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