An important question in biology is how multicellular organisms with different cell types evolved from unicellular ancestors. During the evolution of the familiar plants and animals, this transition occurred so long ago that all the details of the event have been buried by time. But in a group of green algae, of which Volvox is the most advanced member, the transition to multicellularity appears to have occurred much more recently, and this book reviews efforts to understand how and why it occurred.
Kirk also describes comparative analyses suggesting explanations for the function of multicellularity that can be tested experimentally. This breadth of treatment raises Kirk's book from a technical monograph, read only by specialists, to a synthesis that can be appreicated and enjoyed by any biologist. It seems the most remarkable work of its kind since John Tyler Bonner's The Cellular Slime Molds (1959), and it deserves to achieve the same celebrity. Graham Bell, Science "This book had everything going for it. The great thing about this book is that it covers, in a single volume, the history of &RVolvox studies, its evolution, ecology, development...and genetics both classical and molecular. This broad picture is presented in clear, straightforward prose by David Kirk, who...has done so much to solve many of the riddles." J. T. Bonner, The Quarterly Review of Biology "...Kirk has interwoven as background a clear and succinct review of modern knowledge concerning the origin of life on earth, the internal architecture of cells and flagella, aspects of the sexual cycle, and the manifold uses, sometimes surprising, of analyses of mutant genes. All this comes with extensive and diverse references, a good index, photographs, and diagrams, and almost no typographic errors--a very careful job. This book is required reading for any researcher, any teacher of biology, or a biologist on busman's holiday." Phycologia
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