Skip over navigation

FEB 18 | Joan Strassmann, Rice University

TITLE: What it means to be an organism with a case study of Dictyostelium, a social amoeba

Audience: HOST: Daniel Rubenstein

Location: 10 Guyot Hall

Date/Time: 02/18/10 at 12:30 pm - 02/18/10 at 1:30 pm

The organism is central to the study of life and yet there is surprisingly little debate, and even less agreement on what constitutes an organism. Organismality may seem clear in higher animals, but it is less so in plants, fungi, microbes, or social insects, for example.  We propose a social definition - that an organism is a living entity that has very high cooperation among its parts and very little conflict.  The organism is the focus of adaptation.  I will discuss this definition of organismality, apply it to a number of life forms, and relate it to earlier definitions.  The other part of the talk will be a case study of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, which has a solitary stage and a social stage arrived upon by aggregation. I will examine recent progress in social evolution of Dictyostelium, including genes for behavior and kin discrimination, the importance of relatedness, and a genomic perspective.
  |  Joan Strassmann's website: http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~evolve/joan.html

Category: EEB 522 Colloquium

Department: EEB