Emma Hammarlund is Research Group Leader for this research group
What it takes to form multicellularity remains poorly understood – whether it’s in the shape of animals or tumors. We discuss whether the key components behind the rise of multicellularity are developmental, environmental, or ecological. To explore these key components, and their interaction, will advance our view on our origins. While the rise of animals is commonly studied with clues from Earth history (geology) and their development (biology), tumor biology can add unique real-time insight to the dynamics at a successful rise of ‘ugly’ multicellularity. And vice versa, insights from organismal evolution over geological time can provide a frame of reference to how we interrogate tumor evolution.
In a transdisciplinary effort, we utilize both geobiology and tumor biology to explore the evolutionary roots to animal health and disease. One focus is the role that biological innovations like the cellular hypoxic response machineries have played for the rise of complex multicellularity. Another focus is the shared programs that unicellular organisms and single cancer cells utilize for metabolism, motility, and mediation of toxicity.