Social amoebae aggregate to form a multicellular slug that migrates some distance. Most species produce a stalk during migration, but some do not. We show that Dictyostelium giganteum, a species that produces stalk during migration, is able to traverse small gaps and utilize bacterial resources following gap traversal by shedding live cells. In contrast, we found that Dictyostelium discoideum, a species that does not produce stalk during migration, can traverse gaps only when in the presence of other species’ stalks or other thin filaments. These findings suggest that production of stalk during migration allows traversal of gaps that commonly occurs in soil and leaf litter. Considering the functional consequences of a stalked migration may be important for explaining the evolutionary maintenance or loss of a stalked migration.
Gilbert, Owen M.; Kuzdzal-Fick, Jennie J.; Queller, David C.; and Strassmann, Joan E., "Mind the gap: a comparative study of migratory behavior in social amoebae" (2012). Biology Faculty Publications & Presentations. 14.