Slimy farmers

From the Department of Hot Damn, But That’s Cool:
Farmer Dicty
Primitive agriculture in a social amoeba, DOI: 10.1038/nature09668.

We humans think we’re so clever, with our hunting, gathering and intensive farming of potatoes for vodka. But the cell biologist’s favourite model, the slime mould Dictyostelium discoideum, has got us beat. This little critter (which, in case you didn’t know, lives as a single-celled organism until times get hard, and then it turns into a Super Slug of Doom) will pack up its own lunch when it goes walkabout.

They then carry bacteria during spore dispersal and can seed a new food crop, which is a major advantage if edible bacteria are lacking at the new site.

Let me say that again: some of the cells in the collective turn into ‘farmers’, gathering bacteria (their food source) and storing it for later (read our News article here.)

The authors describe for the first time a behaviour exhibited by some strains of the facultative metazoan amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, allowing them to propose the provocative concept that husbandry was invented by such ‘primitive’ organisms.

—Faculty Member Thierry Soldati

Colour me mindblown.

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