Kin Discrimination in Protists: From Many Cells to Single Cells and Backwards
Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
During four decades (1960-1990s), the conceptualization and experimental design of studies in kin recognition relied on work with multicellular eukaryotes, particularly Unikonta (including invertebrates and vertebrates) and some Bikonta (including plants). This pioneering research had an animal behavior approach. During the 2000s, work on taxa-, clone- and kin-discrimination and recognition in protists produced genetic and molecular evidence that unicellular organisms (e.g. Saccharomyces, Dictyostelium, Polysphondylium, Tetrahymena, Entamoeba and Plasmodium) could distinguish between same (self or clone) and different (diverse clones), as well as among conspecifics of close or distant genetic relatedness. Here, we discuss some of the research on the genetics of kin discrimination/recognition and highlight the scientific progress made by switching emphasis from investigating multicellular to unicellular systems (and backwards). We document how studies with protists are helping us to understand the microscopic, cellular origins and evolution of the mechanisms of kin discrimination/recognition and their significance for the advent of multicellularity. We emphasize that because protists are among the most ancient organisms on Earth, belong to multiple taxonomic groups and occupy all environments, they can be central to reexamining traditional hypotheses in the field of kin recognition, reformulating concepts, and generating new knowledge.
Paz-Y-Miño-C, G., & Espinosa, A. (2016). Kin Discrimination in Protists: From Many Cells to Single Cells and Backwards. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, 63 (3), 367-377. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeu.12306
National Institute of General Medical Sciences