Confirmation and variability of the Allee effect in Dictyostelium discoideum cell populations, possible role of chemical signaling within cell clusters
In studies of the unicellular eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum, many have anecdotally observed that cell dilution below a certain 'threshold density' causes cells to undergo a period of slow growth (lag). However, little is documented about the slow growth phase and the reason for different growth dynamics below and above this threshold density. In this paper, we extend and correct our earlier work to report an extensive set of experiments, including the use of new cell counting technology, that set this slow-to-fast growth transition on a much firmer biological basis. We show that dilution below a certain density (around 104 cells ml-1) causes cells to grow slower on average and exhibit a large degree of variability: sometimes a sample does not lag at all, while sometimes it takes many moderate density cell cycle times to recover back to fast growth. We perform conditioned media experiments to demonstrate that a chemical signal mediates this endogenous phenomenon. Finally, we argue that while simple models involving fluid transport of signal molecules or cluster-based signaling explain typical behavior, they do not capture the high degree of variability between samples but nevertheless favor an intra-cluster mechanism. Â© 2022 IOP Publishing Ltd.