Article

Kin discrimination increases with genetic distance in a social amoeba.

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA.
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 12.69). 12/2008; 6(11):e287. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0060287
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, thousands of cells aggregate upon starvation to form a multicellular fruiting body, and approximately 20% of them die to form a stalk that benefits the others. The aggregative nature of multicellular development makes the cells vulnerable to exploitation by cheaters, and the potential for cheating is indeed high. Cells might avoid being victimized if they can discriminate among individuals and avoid those that are genetically different. We tested how widely social amoebae cooperate by mixing isolates from different localities that cover most of their natural range. We show here that different isolates partially exclude one another during aggregation, and there is a positive relationship between the extent of this exclusion and the genetic distance between strains. Our findings demonstrate that D. discoideum cells co-aggregate more with genetically similar than dissimilar individuals, suggesting the existence of a mechanism that discerns the degree of genetic similarity between individuals in this social microorganism.

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