From environmental sensing to developmental control: cognitive evolution in Dictyostelid social amoebas

Pauline Schaap (Lead / Corresponding author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    74 Downloads (Pure)


    Dictyostelid social amoebas respond to starvation by self-organizing into multicellular slugs that migrate towards light to construct spore-bearing structures. These behaviours depend on excitable networks that enable amoebas to produce propagating waves of the chemoattractant cAMP, and to respond by directional movement. cAMP additionally regulates cell differentiation throughout development, with differentiation and cell movement being coordinated by interaction of the stalk inducer c-di-GMP with the adenylate cyclase that generates cAMP oscillations. Evolutionary studies indicate how the manifold roles of cAMP in multicellular development evolved from a role as intermediate for starvation-induced encystation in the unicellular ancestor. A merger of this stress response with the chemotaxis excitable networks yielded the developmental complexity and cognitive capabilities of extant Dictyostelia. This article is part of the theme issue 'Basal cognition: conceptual tools and the view from the single cell'.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20190756
    Number of pages8
    JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B - Biological Sciences
    Issue number1820
    Early online date25 Jan 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021


    • excitable networks
    • self-organization
    • stress response
    • cAMP oscillations
    • Dictyostelium

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
    • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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