Monday, August 14, 2006

 

When the Going Gets Tough, Slime Molds Start Synthesizing

In times of plenty, the uni-cellular slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum leads a solitary life munching on bacteria littering the forest floor. But these simple creatures can perform heroic developmental acts: when the bacterial food supply dries up, Dictyostelium amebas band together with their neighbors and form a multi-cellular tower designed to save the children.

...When slime molds starve, they collectively form a multicellular slug-like creature that locomotes en masse to a warm spot. There, in response to the DIF-1 signal, slugs literally stand up and their cells metamorphose into either a column of stalk cells or next-generation spore cells, which perch atop the column waiting for food supplies to be restored...

The above news release is based on "Biosynthesis of Dictyostelium discoideum differentiation-inducing factor by a hybrid type I fatty acid-type III polyketide synthase" (Abstract).

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