A couple of days ago, I answered this question over on worldbuilding.SE with some information about volvoxes, and commenter Liam Proven pointed out that one of the claims I made was dubious.

I had first read about the volvox in a book that described their basic biology and life cycle (the book may have been Flatterland by Ian Stewart, but I no longer have a copy to verify). One detail I vaguely remembered was that since volvoxes are essentially colonial organisms, individual cells do not immediately die when the volvox disintegrates, but rather some of these cells can rejoin the cytoplasmic matrix of other colonies, similar to sponges.

Now, I read this a long time ago, and my memory is admittedly foggy, and I never had any university-level training in biology. It's entirely possible I'm conflating this with something completely different I read elsewhere, so Liam's comment sent me searching for more info. And even if I am remembering correctly what I had read, it's possible the original author was mistaken.

The best article I could find on the topic was Cytoplasmic Bridges in Volvox and Its Relatives by Hoops, Nishii, and Kirk, but it doesn't appear to support my recollection (it talks mostly about the inversion process in embryos).

So I thought I'd bring the question to a wider audience. Do individual volvox cells reintegrate after disintegration, or do the mother's cells simply die?


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