ICREA research professor and Principal Investigator of the MulticellGenome Lab at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology (IBE: CSIC-UPF), has received an ERC Advanced Grant, one of the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grants. Only 13% of the 1,650 people who aspired to get the scholarship have received it.
With 2.5 million euros, this grant will finance the “Missingrelatives” project, in which the team will try to understand how the evolutionary leap from unicellular organisms to animals occurred – that is, when and how unicellular organisms came together to create colonies and synergies between them, giving rise to the appearance of multicellular organisms.
The lab, which has spent 15 years studying who our closest relatives among single-celled organisms are and what genetic and molecular characteristics they share with animals, has already made some big discoveries in this regard.
This ERC grant will finance the laboratory for 5 years, during which they will use innovative genetic tools (such as Metabarcoding or “long-read” sequencing) to discover new lineages that could represent an intermediate step in the evolution of multicellular beings; a kind of missing link that helps shed more light on this important evolutionary leap.