Complex life cycles of multicellular eukaryotes: new approaches based on the use of model organisms

Gene. 2007 Dec 30;406(1-2):152-70. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2007.07.025. Epub 2007 Aug 8.


A wide variety of life cycles can be found in the different groups of multicellular eukaryotes. Here we provide an overview of this variety, and review some of the theoretical arguments that have been put forward to explain the evolutionary stability of different life cycle strategies. We also describe recent progress in the analysis of the haploid-diploid life cycle of the model angiosperm Arabidopsis thaliana and show how new molecular data are providing a means to test some of the theoretical predictions. Finally, we describe an emerging model organism from the brown algae, Ectocarpus siliculosus, and highlight the potential of this system for the investigation of the mechanisms that regulate complex life cycles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Biodiversity*
  • Chlorophyta / growth & development
  • Ecology
  • Eukaryotic Cells*
  • Female
  • Genes, Plant
  • Germ Cells
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phaeophyta / growth & development
  • Plant Development
  • Ploidies
  • Spores