Can the evolution of multicellularity be anticipated in the exploration of the solar system? Book Section

Author(s): de Vladar, Harold P; Chela-Flores, Julian
Article/Chapter Title: Can the evolution of multicellularity be anticipated in the exploration of the solar system?
Title Series: Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology
Affiliation IST Austria
Abstract: The problem of the origin of metazoa is becoming more urgent in the context of astrobiology. By now it is clear that clues to the understanding of this crucial transition in the evolution of life can arise in a fourth pathway besides the three possibilities in the quest for simplicity outlined by Bonner in his classical book. In other words, solar system exploration seems to be one way in the long-term to elucidate the simplicity of evolutionary development. We place these ideas in the context of different inheritance systems, namely the genotypic and phenotypic replicators with limited or unlimited heredity, and ask which of these can support multicellular development, and to which degree of complexity. However, the quest for evidence on the evolution of biotas from planets around other stars does not seem to be feasible with present technology with direct visualization of living organisms on exoplanets. But this may be attempted on the Galilean moons of Jupiter where there is a possibility of detecting reliable biomarkers in the next decade with the Europa Jupiter System Mission, in view of recent progress by landing micropenetrators on planetary, or satellite surfaces. Mars is a second possibility in the inner Solar System, in spite of the multiple difficulties faced by the fleet of past, present and future missions. We discuss a series of preliminary ideas for elucidating the origin of metazoan analogues with available instrumentation in potential payloads of feasible space missions to the Galilean moons.
Book Title: Life on Earth and other planetary bodies
Volume: 24
ISBN: 978-94-007-4965-8
Publisher: Springer  
Date Published: 2012-01-01
Start Page: 387
End Page: 405
DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-4966-5_22
Open access: no