Project Title

A Close Look at a Microscopic Battle

Presenters

Ashley AyalaFollow

Academic department under which the project should be listed

CSM - Molecular and Cellular Biology

Faculty Sponsor Name

Ramya Rajagopalan

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Predation is an ecological process that allows energy to transfer from one living organism to another. It is a biological interaction that occurs in all forms and sizes of life. It helps keep a balanced environment and can promote or deter the reproduction of an organism.

This experiment will be observing predation to a microscopic level, about a microbe that has been dubbed, “Slime Mold”, and has become an important model organism in the world of science. Dictyostelium discoideum is an ameboid protozoan, a unicellular organism that can alter its shape. As an ameboid, Dictyostelim extends and retracts its pseudopod, which has two main functions: assisting with locomotion and engulfing food or capturing prey. These functions are important in regards to this experiment because the main focus will be on Dictyostelium’s form of predation.

Dictyostelim are present generally in soil and are considered social amoebas, meaning that they use cell communication to preform specific actions depending on their environment. A common example of this is when they are starving. Dictyostelium has the ability to communicate with itself and group together to create a fruiting body. Then, sporogenesis will be triggered, allowing them to resist harsh environments and ensure long-term survival. This process allows them to regulate the population of prey organism and increase plant nutrient availability, making them shape their ecosystem. This is not a unique trait to Dictyostelium, for it is a part of a diverse community of micropredators, who share this process.

We are interested in exploring the dynamics of interaction between soil micropredators, such as Dictyostelium, and Myxococcus, a social bacterium. Though they share a similar role in their environment, these two microbes differ in predatory efficiency, prey preference, and cooperative behavior. The goal of this experiment is to investigate these characteristics, along with their signaling mechanisms.

Keywords: Slime Mold, micropredator, Myxococcus, Dictyostelium, predation, signaling, social behavior, sporogenesis, amoeboid, pseudopodia.

Disciplines

Biology | Life Sciences

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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A Close Look at a Microscopic Battle

Predation is an ecological process that allows energy to transfer from one living organism to another. It is a biological interaction that occurs in all forms and sizes of life. It helps keep a balanced environment and can promote or deter the reproduction of an organism.

This experiment will be observing predation to a microscopic level, about a microbe that has been dubbed, “Slime Mold”, and has become an important model organism in the world of science. Dictyostelium discoideum is an ameboid protozoan, a unicellular organism that can alter its shape. As an ameboid, Dictyostelim extends and retracts its pseudopod, which has two main functions: assisting with locomotion and engulfing food or capturing prey. These functions are important in regards to this experiment because the main focus will be on Dictyostelium’s form of predation.

Dictyostelim are present generally in soil and are considered social amoebas, meaning that they use cell communication to preform specific actions depending on their environment. A common example of this is when they are starving. Dictyostelium has the ability to communicate with itself and group together to create a fruiting body. Then, sporogenesis will be triggered, allowing them to resist harsh environments and ensure long-term survival. This process allows them to regulate the population of prey organism and increase plant nutrient availability, making them shape their ecosystem. This is not a unique trait to Dictyostelium, for it is a part of a diverse community of micropredators, who share this process.

We are interested in exploring the dynamics of interaction between soil micropredators, such as Dictyostelium, and Myxococcus, a social bacterium. Though they share a similar role in their environment, these two microbes differ in predatory efficiency, prey preference, and cooperative behavior. The goal of this experiment is to investigate these characteristics, along with their signaling mechanisms.

Keywords: Slime Mold, micropredator, Myxococcus, Dictyostelium, predation, signaling, social behavior, sporogenesis, amoeboid, pseudopodia.

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