The costs and benefits of being a chimera

Kevin R. Foster, Angelo Fortunato, Joan E. Strassmann, David C. Queller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most multicellular organisms are uniclonal. This is hypothesized to be because uniclonal organisms function better than chimeras (non-clonal organisms), owing to reduced levels of internal genetic conflict. We tested this idea using the social amoeba or slime mold Dictyostelium discoideum. When starving, the normally solitary amoebae aggregate to form a differentiated multicellular slug that migrates towards light and forms a fruiting body, facilitating the dispersal of spores. We added 107 amoebae to Petri plates containing 1, 2, 5 or 10 clones mixed together. We found an intrinsic cost to chimerism: chimeric slugs moved significantly less far than uniclonal slugs of the same size. However, in nature, joining with other clones to form a chimera should increase slug size, and larger slugs travel further. We incorporated this size effect into a second experiment by giving chimeras more cells than single clones (single clones had 106 cells, two-clone chimeras had 2 x 106 cells and so on). The uniclonal treatments then simulated a clone in a mixture that refuses to form chimeras. In this experiment, chimeras moved significantly further than the uniclonal slugs, in spite of the intrinsic cost. Thus, chimerism is costly, which may be why it evolves so seldom, but in D. discoideum the benefits of large size appear to compensate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2357-2362
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume269
Issue number1507
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 22 2002
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

chimera
Gastropoda
chimerism
slug
Cost-Benefit Analysis
clone
slugs
Clone Cells
Amoeba
clones
Fungi
cost
Joining
Costs
Chimerism
Dictyostelium
Experiments
Dictyostelium discoideum
slime mould
Costs and Cost Analysis

Keywords

  • Chimera
  • Dictyostelium discoideum
  • Evolution of multicellularity
  • Levels of selection
  • Reproductive conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

The costs and benefits of being a chimera. / Foster, Kevin R.; Fortunato, Angelo; Strassmann, Joan E.; Queller, David C.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 269, No. 1507, 22.11.2002, p. 2357-2362.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Foster, Kevin R. ; Fortunato, Angelo ; Strassmann, Joan E. ; Queller, David C. / The costs and benefits of being a chimera. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2002 ; Vol. 269, No. 1507. pp. 2357-2362.
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