What is it like to be a choanoflagellate? Sensation, processing and behavior in the closest unicellular relatives of animals - Institut Pasteur Access content directly
Journal Articles Animal Cognition Year : 2023

What is it like to be a choanoflagellate? Sensation, processing and behavior in the closest unicellular relatives of animals

Abstract

All animals evolved from a single lineage of unicellular precursors more than 600 million years ago. Thus, the biological and genetic foundations for animal sensation, cognition and behavior must necessarily have arisen by modifications of pre-existing features in their unicellular ancestors. Given that the single-celled ancestors of the animal kingdom are extinct, the only way to reconstruct how these features evolved is by comparing the biology and genomic content of extant animals to their closest living relatives. Here, we reconstruct the Umwelt (the subjective, perceptive world) inhabited by choanoflagellates, a group of unicellular (or facultatively multicellular) aquatic microeukaryotes that are the closest living relatives of animals. Although behavioral research on choanoflagellates remains patchy, existing evidence shows that they are capable of chemosensation, photosensation and mechanosensation. These processes often involve specialized sensorimotor cellular appendages (cilia, microvilli, and/or filopodia) that resemble those that underlie perception in most animal sensory cells. Furthermore, comparative genomics predicts an extensive “sensory molecular toolkit” in choanoflagellates, which both provides a potential basis for known behaviors and suggests the existence of a largely undescribed behavioral complexity that presents exciting avenues for future research. Finally, we discuss how facultative multicellularity in choanoflagellates might help us understand how evolution displaced the locus of decision-making from a single cell to a collective, and how a new space of behavioral complexity might have become accessible in the process.
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
Ros-Rocher & Brunet 2023 What is it like to be a choanoflagellate Sensation, processing and behavior in the closest unicellular relatives of animals.pdf (2.96 Mo) Télécharger le fichier
Origin : Publication funded by an institution
Licence : CC BY - Attribution

Dates and versions

pasteur-04087787 , version 1 (03-05-2023)

Licence

Attribution

Identifiers

Cite

Núria Ros-Rocher, Thibaut Brunet. What is it like to be a choanoflagellate? Sensation, processing and behavior in the closest unicellular relatives of animals. Animal Cognition, 2023, ⟨10.1007/s10071-023-01776-z⟩. ⟨pasteur-04087787⟩

Collections

PASTEUR CNRS
24 View
122 Download

Altmetric

Share

Gmail Facebook X LinkedIn More