Dictyostelium discoideum or slime mold, is an amoeba; a single-celled organism, which spends most of its life on a diet of soil bacteria. Faced with famine, it has the unusual ability to form a ‘social’ structure to escape starvation. Amoebas clump together to form a 'slug' (bottom, left) that moves towards light. When the slug stops the cell-collective forms a fruiting body (far right), in which some cells die causing their companions to distribute widely (sporulation), in search of a better place to live. Dictyostelium is also a useful model organism. Many aspects of cellular biology in scenarios of health, disease and development depend on the ability of individual cells to communicate with their neighbours like these amoebas do. Many slime mold genes have human counterparts, so this amoeba can be used to investigate genes and test drugs of potential benefit to human health.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.