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Division of labor offers insight into the evolution of multicellular life

August 14, 2012

Dividing tasks among different individuals is a more efficient way to get things done, whether you are an ant, a honeybee or a human.

A new study by researchers at Michigan State University’s BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action suggests that this efficiency may also explain a key transition in evolutionary history, from single-celled to multi-celled organisms.

The results, which can be found in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate that the cost of switching between different tasks gives rise to the evolution of division of labor in digital organisms. In human economies, these costs could be the mental shift or the travel time required to change from activity to another.

Excerpt from a press release by MSU

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