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The Non-dictyostelid Sorocarpic Amoebae

  • Matthew W. BrownAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Mississippi State University Email author 
  • , Jeffrey D. SilbermanAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas

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The social life cycle made famous through research on the dictyostelids is not an evolutionary innovation that is solely unique to the dictyostelids. Since 1873, other protistans with similar life styles have been recognized. Historically, they have been allied under various taxonomic classifications over the last 140 years; however, the recent influx of molecular data has proven that analogous methods through a social means to form a spore dispersal structure have independently arose in 7 different lineages of eukaryotic organisms. Here we provide a brief introduction to each of the amoeboid organisms that display this behavior focusing on their life histories and the history of the research on each taxon. These organisms represent one of the most striking examples of ultimate convergent evolution across the greatest possible evolutionary distances in eukaryotic evolution. Research into the molecular and developmental biology, that underlies the evolution of a social life cycle and formation of a fruiting body is still in its infancy when compared to the dictyostelids. However, the genomes from several non-dictyostelid sorocarpic amoebae are soon becoming available, and a new age of research into these fascinating organisms is beginning to gain traction.