Evolution’s Wildcard: The Single‑Cell Bottleneck

Explore the 'single-cell bottleneck', its role in multicellular life, and its implications for genetics and evolution.


Here we look at the “single-cell bottleneck”. We uncover why most multicellular organisms begin life as a single cell and examine the benefits and risks of this biological process. We look at the concept of “genetic clonality”, an aspect crucial to the single-cell bottleneck, as we discuss its significance in cell behavior and its role in managing internal cellular conflicts.

Finally, we’ll address the ongoing research by scientists like Ashleigh Griffin and Jack Howe of Oxford University who are investigating why some species, such as certain flatworms, don’t utilize single-cell bottlenecks.

Further Reading

The following paper (open access) by Jack Howe, Jochen C. Rink, Bo Wang, and Ashleigh S. Griffin; details the role of the single-cell bottleneck in biology, how somatic and germline tissues segregate, how this is similar to relatedness in colonial insects, and the mysteries surrounding the absence of clonality in flatworms.