Spontaneous emergence of large-scale cell cycle synchronization in amoeba colonies
Unicellular eukaryotic amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum are generally believed to grow in their vegetative state as single cells until starvation, when their collective aspect emerges and they differentiate to form a multicellular slime mold. While major efforts continue to be aimed at their starvation-induced social aspect, our understanding of population dynamics and cell cycle in the vegetative growth phase has remained incomplete. Here we show that cell populations grown on a substrate spontaneously synchronize their cell cycles within several hours. These collective population-wide cell cycle oscillations span millimeter length scales and can be completely suppressed by washing away putative cell-secreted signals, implying signaling by means of a diffusible growth factor or mitogen. These observations give strong evidence for collective proliferation behavior in the vegetative state. Â© 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.