"In fact, these single cells aggregate based on genetic similarity, not true kinship," said Dr. Gad Shaulsky, professor of molecular and human genetics at BCM. However, it demonstrates a discrimination between "self" and "non-self" that is similar to that seen in the immune systems of higher organisms, he said.
Dictyostelium discoideum begins as a single-celled organism. As long as these single cells have sufficient food and a pleasant environment, they are happy to remain that way. However, when food supplies run low, they first move toward one another to form an aggregate. Eventually the aggregate forms a multi-cellular organism made up of spores that can survive and reproduce, and dead cells that form a stalk. The stalk to spore ratio is about one to four.
"Cooperation is one of the success stories of the evolution of life," said Dr. Joan Strassmann, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at Rice, "Part of that success involves allowing cooperation in a way that controls conflict. One of the best ways to control conflict is cooperating with genetically similar individuals."
This kind of work is important in understanding biofilms, colonies of bacteria or fungi that can harm humans and other mammals, she said. For example, people with cystic fibrosis are vulnerable to the formation of biofilms that can damage the lungs.
In previous work, the collaborators found that Dictyostelium cells sometimes "cheat" by avoiding the deadly stalk pathway, thereby increasing the chances that their genes will be reproduced in future generations.
In this work, they determined that while cheating is still a possibility, the aggregation by genetic similarity reduces the likelihood that the stalk cells will "die" for a genetically distant individual.
"It's not exclusive," said Shaulsky, "but it's a preference. In that context, what are the benefits of cooperating versus the risks? By segregating, they minimize the risk that cells of their genetic similarity will die.'
In the laboratory, the scientists mixed cells from genetically distinct strains and found that they segregate into clusters of genetically similar "kin" after they have aggregated into the multi-cellular form.
"It's as much a self, non-self mechanism as anything," said Strassmann. "The more distant you are genetically, the more able you are to trigger the non-self recognition."
Dr. Elizabeth Ostrowski, a post-doctoral researcher in the Strassmann/(Dr. David) Queller laboratory at Rice and first author on the report, said, "We knew that Dictyostelium was unusual in that it brings different genotypes together in the multi-cellular organism. These results suggest that these organisms also have mechanisms to limit the levels of genetic diversity in the multi-cellular organism." A human's cells, for example, have the same genome everywhere in the body because humans begin development as a single cell.
This kind of work shows the strength of Dictyostelium as a model for understanding other multi-cellular organisms, she said.
"What role does this discrimination for genetic similarity play in the ability of organisms to become multi-cellular?" she said.
"The big thing we found is that Dictyostelium discoideum have social behavior," said Dr. Mariko Katoh, an instructor in molecular and human genetics at BCM and the other first author on the report. "We didn't really know if they could discriminate when the genetic differences were small. That was the surprising part."
In the future, the scientists plan to determine the molecular mechanisms behind the aggregation phenomenon.
Glenna Picton | EurekAlert!
New type of photosynthesis discovered
17.06.2018 | Imperial College London
New ID pictures of conducting polymers discover a surprise ABBA fan
17.06.2018 | University of Warwick
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering