How social evolution theory impacts our understanding of development in the social amoeba Dictyostelium
Version of Record online: 18 MAY 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Development, Growth & Differentiation © 2011 Japanese Society of Developmental Biologists
Development, Growth & Differentiation
Special Issue: SOCIAL AMOEBA AND THE ORIGIN OF MULTICELLULARITY
Volume 53, Issue 4, pages 597–607, May 2011
How to Cite
Strassmann, J. E. and Queller, D. C. (2011), How social evolution theory impacts our understanding of development in the social amoeba Dictyostelium. Development, Growth & Differentiation, 53: 597–607. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2011.01272.x
- Issue online: 18 MAY 2011
- Version of Record online: 18 MAY 2011
- Received 31 January 2011; revised 19 February 2011; accepted 20 February 2011.
- genetic relatedness;
- kin discrimination;
- kin selection;
- social evolution
Dictyostelium discoideum has been very useful for elucidating principles of development over the last 50 years, but a key attribute means there is a lot to be learned from a very different intellectual tradition: social evolution. Because Dictyostelium arrives at multicellularity by aggregation instead of through a single-cell bottleneck, the multicellular body could be made up of genetically distinct cells. If they are genetically distinct, natural selection will result in conflict over which cells become fertile spores and which become dead stalk cells. Evidence for this conflict includes unequal representation of two genetically different clones in spores of a chimera, the poison-like differentiation inducing factor (DIF) system that appears to involve some cells forcing others to become stalk, and reduced functionality in migrating chimeras. Understanding how selection operates on chimeras of genetically distinct clones is crucial for a comprehensive view of Dictyostelium multicellularity. In nature, Dictyostelium fruiting bodies are often clonal, or nearly so, meaning development will often be very cooperative. Relatedness levels tell us what benefits must be present for sociality to evolve. Therefore it is important to measure relatedness in nature, show that it has an impact on cooperation in the laboratory, and investigate genes that Dictyostelium uses to discriminate between relatives and non-relatives. Clearly, there is a promising future for research at the interface of development and social evolution in this fascinating group.