The genetic program for germ-soma differentiation in Volvox

Annu Rev Genet. 1997;31:359-80. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.31.1.359.


Volvox carteri possesses only two cell types: mortal somatic cells and potentially immortal asexual reproductive cells called gonidia. Mutational analysis indicates that three categories of genes play central roles in programming this germ-soma division of labor: First the gls genes function during embryogenesis to cause asymmetric divisions that produce large and small cells. Then the lag genes act in the large cells (gonidial initials) to repress functions required for somatic development while the regA locus acts in the small cells (somatic initials) to repress functions required for reproductive development. Transposon tagging and DNA transformation have recently been used to recover and characterize the glsA and regA genes, and the sequences of these genes lead to testable hypotheses about how they play their roles in germ-soma differentiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algal Proteins*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Chlorophyta / cytology*
  • Chlorophyta / genetics*
  • Forecasting
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteins / genetics*


  • Algal Proteins
  • Proteins