#IDIBELLseminars: The unknowns behinds the rise of multicellularity on Earth

Emma Hammarlund

Lund Stem Cell Center



Sala de Graus (Aulari) – UB


The rise of large life on Earth in the form of animals was a fairly late and unique event in a 4.6 billion-year-long history, that we still do not fully understand. We have so far linked this event to a presumed rise in atmospheric oxygen (O2). However, a link between any rise in atmospheric O2 and the diversification of animals is not supported with clues from the geological record. Indeed, observations from within tissues (and tumors) even suggest that cell stemness is challenged by ‘oxic’ conditions. This makes it valuable to explore if instead the managment of hypoxia and hypoxia-responses are vital for tissues to form and tissue renewal to occur. I will present some such explorations to you, and look forward to hear your thoughts on these.

Hosted by Jordi Guiu, Cell Plasticity and Regeneration Group


I wonder why animals appeared on Earth. I first explored this question with methods used in the fields of geology and experimental biology. The PhD studies (in Stockholm) and postdoc project (at the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution in Denmark) took me out in the field to gather observations of how oxygen and multicellularity are linked. However, first when introduced to tumor biology and stem cell science, it became clear to me that some of the links between tissue maintenance at oxic conditions are counterintuitive. With starting grants from the Swedish and European research councils, I now explore hypoxia and hypoxia response machineries as prerequisites for the rise of animals (and tumors) also in collaboration with experts at Idibell. My group is based in Lund, Sweden.

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