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Social conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum : a matter of scales


Forget,  Mathieu
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;


De Monte,  Silvia
Research Group Dynamics of Microbial Collectives, Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Forget, M., Adiba, S., & De Monte, S. (2021). Social conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum: a matter of scales. Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology, 2020080554. doi:10.20944/preprints202008.0554.v2.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A970-C
The ’social amoeba’ Dictyostelium discoideum, where aggregation of genet- ically heterogeneous cells produces functional collective structures, epitomizes social conflicts associated with multicellular organization. ’Cheater’ populations that have a higher chance – quantified by a positive spore bias – of surviving to the next generation are selectively advantaged. Their spread is thus expected to undermine collective functions over evolutionary times. In this review, we discuss the two main approaches adopted to conceptualize social conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum: describing spore bias as a property of cell popula- tions (strains), or as a result of individual cell choices during the developmental process. These two points of view are often held equivalent and used inter- changeably. While the population-level view allows for more direct evolutionary inference, however, the cell-level interpretation reveals that such evolutionary predictions may be modified if developmental mechanisms, such as dependence on the environment and intrinsic unpredictability of cell fate choices, are taken into account. We conclude by proposing a set of open questions that in our opinion lie at the core of a multi-scale description of aggregative life cycles, where the formulation of predictive evolutionary models would include cell-level mechanisms responsible for spore bias alongside population-level descriptors of multicellular organization.