Affects cancer unicellular organisms

Are there unicellular organisms that evolved from multicellular organisms?

I would consider HeLa cells as an example of a unicellular eukaryotic organism that evolved from humans. It can survive independently and replicate in cell culture plates, but cannot survive in the wild.

As in your example, HeLa cells are cancer cells, in this particular case human cervical cancer cells. They were propagated as an immortal cell line and, when propagated in the laboratory, completely match the replication properties of eukaryotic cell lines.

It can even be considered the case that HeLa cells are actually some kind of unicellular eukaryotic model organism, similar to S. cerevisiae as they are widely used in experiments with human-like cells.

As WYSIWYG said in the comments, some biologists even give the cells the binomial name Helacyton gartleri assigned (albeit with some controversy).


Hela cells have a scientific name: Helacyton gartleri. They are classified as a separate organism because they can grow outside of human control and have chromosomal differences compared to a normal human cell.

AliceD ♦

Great answer and thanks guys for the explanation. +1 here!


Excellent, which is very interesting, especially that some biologists consider it to be an organism in its own right. Very interesting that they can survive in the culture. I wonder if there are other (discovered or undiscovered) examples of single cells that have broken off and can survive in the wild


great perspective, thanks for sharing! Thanks also to @WYSIWYG