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Unexpected slime mold complexity

When these single-celled organisms congregate into multicellular stalks, they grow a tissue once thought to be unique to multicellular animals

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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A simple slime mold may not be as dissimilar from complex multicellular creatures as previously assumed. When the single-celled organisms come together to form a multicellular fruiting body, they generate a tissue called polarized epithelium that was once believed to be unique to animals.
Confocal micrograph of the tip of a Dictyostelium discoideum fruiting body, stained for DNA (blue), actin (green), Ddα-catenin (orange) and tubulin (magenta).
Image: Daniel J. Dickinson, Program in Cancer Biology, Stanford University
The results, published this week in Science, add to a linkurl:growing body of evidence;http://www.the-scientist.com/2011/1/1/38/1/ that the genetic toolkit for multicellularity existed well before complex organisms became commonplace on the planet."Yet again it shows that something we thought was unique to animals turns out to not be quite so special," evolutionary biologist Casey Dunn of Brown University, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email to The Scientist.When food reserves...
Dictyostelium discoideumDictyDdDictyDdDictyThe ScientistD. Dickinson, et al., " A polarized epithelium organized by β- and α-catenin predates cadherin and metazoan origins," Science, 331: 1336-39, 2011.







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