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' Dictyosteliummore than the fair share of cheaters become spores, dispersing to a new environment, and avoiding dying as stalk cells.
Dictyosteliumhave 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.
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 Dictyostelium60% 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 Dictyosteliumto 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."
BioMed Central: http://www.biomedcentral.com
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
For all but the shyest of wallflowers, moving to music is a natural human response. But what is it about a catchy tune that makes us groove? Scientists think they've figured out at least part of the recipe: just the right mix of regular rhythms and unexpected beats.
Artists' brains are structurally different to non-artists in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery, a study finds.
Information about who suspects call and when is helping police work out who is linked to which crimes and even their place in the criminal hierarchy
The lead scientist behind a revolutionary method to turn adult cells into stem cells has been found guilty of misconduct, but insists the mistakes were unintentional
A new study reveals that East African honeybees are resistant to the pathogens blamed for colony collapses elsewhere.
Chimpanzees choose tree branches that give them the most firm, stable, and comfortable place to sleep, a new study says.
You can forget about the birds and the bees. If you really want to learn how babies are made, you need to know about Juno and Izumo.
Video footage of the carnivorous sponges gives researchers insight into how they survive
Thermal imaging helps researchers uncover a 1,000-year-old village
Malnourished "Hoppie" is being nursed back to health after being found wandering in California's San Luis National Wildlife Refuge