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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 1989; 86(8): 2733–2736.
PMCID: PMC286992

Ammonia and thermotaxis: Further evidence for a central role of ammonia in the directed cell mass movements of Dictyostelium discoideum


Evidence is presented to support the hypothesis that, in addition to its possible role in mediating chemo- and phototaxis, ammonia (NH3) is also the key substance responsible for directing thermotaxis of the migrating slugs of Dictyostelium discoideum. NH3 is produced by the cells of the slug and we show that high and low concentrations of NH3 decrease the speed of the amoebae while intermediate concentrations increase their speed. NH3 production by amoebae is affected by temperature: the greater the temperature, the more NH3 is produced. From these facts we speculate that both the positive and the negative thermotaxis found in slugs can be explained by temperature gradients stimulating regional differences in NH3 production, and depending upon the temperature, the amount of NH3 will either be in the range that stimulates or inhibits the rate of movement. If this explanation is correct, then minute localized differences in the production of NH3 and their differential effect on cell speed could account for all the directed movements of the cell masses of these slime molds.

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Selected References

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