Transitions in individuality

R. E. Michod, D. Roze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The evolution of multicellular organisms is the premier example of the integration of lower levels into a single, higher-level individual. Explaining the evolutionary transition from single cells to multicellular organisms is a major challenge for evolutionary theory. We provide an explicit framework for understanding this transition in terms of the increase of cooperation among cells and the regulation of conflict within the emerging organism. Heritability of fitness and individuality at the new level emerge as a result of the evolution of organismal functions that restrict the opportunity for conflict within and ensure cooperation among cells. Conflict leads, through the evolution of adaptations that reduce it, to greater individuality and harmony for the organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-857
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1383
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Transitions in individuality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this