Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Yeast's Secrets

Considering cells must cooperate to multiply, it's a wonder most living things ever progressed beyond the single-cell stage, says Carl Zimmer at The New York Times. But new research from the University of Minnesota's William Ratcliff sheds some light on how multicellular organisms came to be. Using brewer's yeast, Ratcliff and his team raised cell lines, allowing natural selection to favor any new mutation that caused the yeast to settle quickly after being shaken in one flask, and then transferred into a fresh flask. "In a matter of weeks, Dr. Ratcliff noticed, the yeast was sinking fast, forming a cloudy layer at the bottom of the flasks," Zimmer says. "He put the yeast under a microscope and discovered that most of it was no longer growing as single cells. Instead, the broth was dominated by snowflake-shaped clusters of hundreds of cells stuck together." When the researchers isolated cells from these clusters and allowed them to grow anew, they found that these cells immediately formed new groupings. "Dr. Ratcliff suspects that the transformation of the yeast in his lab may offer hints about how animals and other lineages became multicellular hundreds of millions of years ago," Zimmer adds.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.