From unicellular to multicellular organisation in the social amoeba dictyostelium discoideum

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The development of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum Development of a vertebrate embryo typically involves the generation of millions of cells that differentiate into hundreds of cell types to form a wide variety of different tissues and organs. Some cell types arise and differentiate in situ at the right position at the right time of development; however, many cell types have to migrate during development over considerable distances to reach their final destination. One of the best understood mechanisms guiding long-range cell movement is chemotaxis. Chemotactic cell movement is a key mechanism in the multicellular development of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum. Its development is in many respects much simpler and more amenable to experimental analysis than that of vertebrates. The cells proliferate in the vegetative stage as single amoebae, which live in the soil and feed on bacteria. When the population size increases, the cells in the centre of the colony will start to starve, and starvation for amino acids acts as a signal for the cells to enter a multicellular developmental phase. Up to 105 cells aggregate to form a multicellular aggregate which transforms into a cylindrical slug. The slug migrates under the control of environmental signals such as light and temperature gradients to the soil surface, where low humidity and overhead light trigger the conversion of the slug into a fruiting body. The fruiting body consists of a stalk of dead cells supporting a mass of spores.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSelf-Organisation and Evolution of Social Systems
    EditorsCharlotte Hemelrijk
    Place of PublicationCambridge
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9780511542275
    ISBN (Print)9780521846552, 9780521846554
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


    Dive into the research topics of 'From unicellular to multicellular organisation in the social amoeba dictyostelium discoideum'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this