"Everything is Everywhere": Determining Population Structure of Northeastern Dictyostelium discoideum



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Background: Genetically influenced social behaviors allow researchers to draw connections between an organism’s genetic makeup and their behavior. Analysis of gene variability across genetic populations and geographical locations provides useful information, allowing researchers to assess gene flow and the effect of natural selection on allele frequencies. Model Organism: The social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum (Dicty) Facing starvation, Dicty eventually differentiates into two types of cells: pre-spore and pre-stalk [1]. A mutation in the cheater C (chtC) gene causes cheating through allocation of fewer cells to the stalk, thereby reaping advantages and experiencing lower cost than the wild-type. A mutation in a gene called rccA (resister of chtC A) confers resistance to cheating by the chtCmutant [2]. Approach: I investigated the variability of 6 loci including rccA in ~300 natural isolates using microsatellite analysis. I found that many alleles were present across loci and geographical locations.