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Genetics. 1987 Oct; 117(2): 213–220.
PMCID: PMC1203198

Genetic Diversity in Cellular Slime Molds: Allozyme Electrophoresis and a Monoclonal Antibody Reveal Cryptic Species among Dictyostelium discoideum Strains


Cellular slime molds have been classified on the basis of a small number of descriptive criteria such as fruiting body color and morphology, and, in heterothallic species, by assignment to compatible mating groups. However, some isolates which are morphologically classified as conspecific do not fall into a simple mating-type classification; for example some are asexual or homothallic. An increasing interest in inter-strain genetic variation in studies of development and simple behavior has led us to reassess genetic relationships among a number of frequently used isolates. Allozyme electrophoresis of 16 soluble enzymes and use of a monoclonal antibody show that there is relatively little genetic diversity among sexually competent Dictyostelium discoideum isolates, despite considerable variation in geographic origin and time since isolation in the laboratory. In contrast a pair of asexual strains and each of two homothallic strains are genetically quite distinct and differ sufficiently from each other, and from sexually competent isolates, to warrant their recognition as separate species. There are probably four biological species represented in the supposedly D. discoideum isolates studied. This heterogeneity extends to other cellular slime mold species. Each of three isolates of Dictyostelium purpureum is genetically distinct from the others. Limited analysis of other cellular slime molds indicates that the generic distinction of Dictyostelium and Polysphondylium must be questioned. This study emphasizes that caution should be applied in classifying simple organisms on morphological criteria.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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