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One of the most pervasive challenges in molecular phylogenetics is the incongruence between phylogenies obtained using different data sets, such as individual genes. To systematically investigate the degree of incongruence, and potential methods for resolving it, we screened the genome sequences of eight yeast species and selected 106 widely distributed(More)
Choanoflagellates are the closest known relatives of metazoans. To discover potential molecular mechanisms underlying the evolution of metazoan multicellularity, we sequenced and analysed the genome of the unicellular choanoflagellate Monosiga brevicollis. The genome contains approximately 9,200 intron-rich genes, including a number that encode cell(More)
In bilaterian animals, such as humans, flies and worms, hundreds of microRNAs (miRNAs), some conserved throughout bilaterian evolution, collectively regulate a substantial fraction of the transcriptome. In addition to miRNAs, other bilaterian small RNAs, known as Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), protect the genome from transposons. Here we identify small(More)
In stark contrast to the rapid morphological radiation of eumetazoans during the Cambrian explosion, the simple body plan of sponges (Phylum Porifera) emerged from the Cambrian relatively unchanged. Although the genetic and developmental underpinnings of these disparate evolutionary outcomes are unknown, comparisons between modern sponges and eumetazoans(More)
The transition to multicellularity that launched the evolution of animals from protozoa marks one of the most pivotal, and poorly understood, events in life's history. Advances in phylogenetics and comparative genomics, and particularly the study of choanoflagellates, are yielding new insights into the biology of the unicellular progenitors of animals.(More)
It has been posited that animal development evolved from pre-existing mechanisms for regulating cell differentiation in the single celled and colonial ancestors of animals. Although the progenitors of animals cannot be studied directly, insights into their cell biology may be gleaned from comparisons between animals and their closest living relatives, the(More)
In the last two decades, the widespread application of genetic and genomic approaches has revealed a bacterial world astonishing in its ubiquity and diversity. This review examines how a growing knowledge of the vast range of animal-bacterial interactions, whether in shared ecosystems or intimate symbioses, is fundamentally altering our understanding of(More)
The evolution of animals from a unicellular ancestor involved many innovations. Choanoflagellates, unicellular and colonial protozoa closely related to Metazoa, provide a potential window into early animal evolution. We have found that choanoflagellates express representatives of a surprising number of cell signaling and adhesion protein families that have(More)
The emergence of multicellular organisms from single-celled ancestors -- which occurred several times, independently in different branches of the eukaryotic tree -- is one of the most profound evolutionary transitions in the history of life. These events not only radically changed the course of life on Earth but also created new challenges, including the(More)
The evolution of animals (metazoans) from their unicellular ancestors required the emergence of novel mechanisms for cell adhesion and cell-cell communication. One of the most important cell adhesion mechanisms for metazoan development is integrin-mediated adhesion and signaling. The integrin adhesion complex mediates critical interactions between cells and(More)