[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 8-Jan-2013
[ | E-mail Share Share ]

Contact: Hilary Glover
hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22370
BioMed Central

Cheating slime mold gets the upper hand

IMAGE: A ‘cheater’ mutation (chtB) in Dictyostelium discoideum, a free living slime mould able to co-operate as social organism when food is scarce, allows the cheater strain to exploit its...

Click here for more information.

A 'cheater' mutation (chtB) in Dictyostelium discoideum, a free living slime mould able to co-operate as social organism when food is scarce, allows the cheater strain to exploit its social partner, finds a new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. The mutation ensures that when mixed with 'normal' Dictyostelium more than the fair share of cheaters become spores, dispersing to a new environment, and avoiding dying as stalk cells.

Dictyostelium have an unusual life style. They generally live as individual amoeboid cells, eating bacteria in leaf litter and soil. However when they run out of food they form a multi-cellular 'slug' capable of travelling to a new environment. However if conditions are right they behave more like a fungus, producing a stalk and a fruiting body which releases spores. During this co-operative behaviour approximately 20% become stalk cells which are doomed to starvation but, after dispersal, the spores germinate into new amoeba.

IMAGE: A ‘cheater’ mutation (chtB) in Dictyostelium discoideum, a free living slime mould able to co-operate as social organism when food is scarce, allows the cheater strain to exploit its...

Click here for more information.

The chtB strain is able to reduce the ability of normal Dictyostelium to form spores so that when mixed in equal numbers with wild type Dictyostelium 60% of the spores will be chtB. The chtB mutation appeared to be normal in all other respects and the mutation had no 'fitness cost' which might impede its behaviour or lifespan. In fact the mutation allowed chtB to divide faster in liquid medium.

Dr Lorenzo Santorelli from the University of Oxford who led this study, conducted at Baylor College of Medicine in the Shaulsky lab explained, "chtB cells inhibit the pre-spore gene cotB in their wild type partner. This appears to force the wild type Dictyostelium to become cells at the base of the stalk rather than stalk cells or spores. Cheaters are essentially parasites, but we could not find the expected fitness cost which usually prevents such cheaters from taking over."

###

Media Contact

Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central

IMAGE: A ‘cheater’ mutation (chtB) in Dictyostelium discoideum, a free living slime mould able to co-operate as social organism when food is scarce, allows the cheater strain to exploit its...

Click here for more information.


Tel: +44 (0) 20 3192 2370
Mob: +44 (0) 778 698 1967
Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com

Notes

1. A new social gene in Dictyostelium discoideum, chtB Lorenzo A Santorelli, Adam Kuspa, Gad Shaulsky, David C Queller and Joan E Strassmann BMC Evolutionary Biology (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request on the day of publication.

All images are to be credited to Lorenzo A Santorelli, Adam Kuspa, Gad Shaulsky, David C Queller and Joan E Strassmann.

2. BMC Evolutionary Biology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of molecular and non-molecular evolution of all organisms, as well as phylogenetics and palaeontology.

3. BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector. @BioMedCentral



[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]

 


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.