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      Stress signalling in acellular slime moulds and its detection by conspecifics

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          Abstract

          Unicellular organisms live in unpredictable environments. Therefore, they need to continuously assess environmental conditions and respond appropriately to survive and thrive. When subjected to rapid changes in their environment or to cellular damages, unicellular organisms such as bacteria exhibit strong physiological reactions called stress responses that can be sensed by conspecifics. The ability to detect and use stress-related cues released by conspecifics to acquire information about the environment constitutes an adaptive survival response by prompting the organism to avoid potential dangers. Here, we investigate stress signalling and its detection by conspecifics in a unicellular organism, Physarum polycephalum . Slime moulds were subjected to either biotic (i.e. nutritional) or abiotic (i.e. chemical and light) stressors or left undisturbed while they were exploring a homogeneous environment. Then, we observed the responses of slime moulds facing a choice between cues released by stressed clone mates and cues released by undisturbed ones. We found that slime moulds actively avoided environments previously explored by stressed clone mates. These results suggest that slime moulds, like bacteria or social amoeba, exhibit physiological responses to biotic and abiotic stresses that can be sensed by conspecifics. Our results establish slime moulds as a promising new model to investigate the use of social information in unicellular organisms.

          This article is part of the theme issue ‘Signal detection theory in recognition systems: from evolving models to experimental tests’.

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          Rules for biologically inspired adaptive network design.

          Transport networks are ubiquitous in both social and biological systems. Robust network performance involves a complex trade-off involving cost, transport efficiency, and fault tolerance. Biological networks have been honed by many cycles of evolutionary selection pressure and are likely to yield reasonable solutions to such combinatorial optimization problems. Furthermore, they develop without centralized control and may represent a readily scalable solution for growing networks in general. We show that the slime mold Physarum polycephalum forms networks with comparable efficiency, fault tolerance, and cost to those of real-world infrastructure networks--in this case, the Tokyo rail system. The core mechanisms needed for adaptive network formation can be captured in a biologically inspired mathematical model that may be useful to guide network construction in other domains.
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            Look who's talking: communication and quorum sensing in the bacterial world.

            For many years bacteria were considered primarily as autonomous unicellular organisms with little capacity for collective behaviour. However, we now appreciate that bacterial cells are in fact, highly communicative. The generic term 'quorum sensing' has been adopted to describe the bacterial cell-to-cell communication mechanisms which co-ordinate gene expression usually, but not always, when the population has reached a high cell density. Quorum sensing depends on the synthesis of small molecules (often referred to as pheromones or autoinducers) that diffuse in and out of bacterial cells. As the bacterial population density increases, so does the synthesis of quorum sensing signal molecules, and consequently, their concentration in the external environment rises. Once a critical threshold concentration has been reached, a target sensor kinase or response regulator is activated (or repressed) so facilitating the expression of quorum sensing-dependent genes. Quorum sensing enables a bacterial population to mount a co-operative response that improves access to nutrients or specific environmental niches, promotes collective defence against other competitor prokaryotes or eukaryotic defence mechanisms and facilitates survival through differentiation into morphological forms better able to combat environmental threats. Quorum sensing also crosses the prokaryotic-eukaryotic boundary since quorum sensing-dependent signalling can be exploited or inactivated by both plants and mammals.
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              Plant ABC proteins--a unified nomenclature and updated inventory.

              The ABC superfamily comprises both membrane-bound transporters and soluble proteins involved in a broad range of processes, many of which are of considerable agricultural, biotechnological and medical potential. Completion of the Arabidopsis and rice genome sequences has revealed a particularly large and diverse complement of plant ABC proteins in comparison with other organisms. Forward and reverse genetics, together with heterologous expression, have uncovered many novel roles for plant ABC proteins, but this progress has been accompanied by a confusing proliferation of names for plant ABC genes and their products. A consolidated nomenclature will provide much-needed clarity and a framework for future research.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B
                The Royal Society
                0962-8436
                1471-2970
                July 06 2020
                May 18 2020
                July 06 2020
                : 375
                : 1802
                : 20190470
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Research Centre on Animal Cognition (CRCA), Centre for Integrative Biology (CBI), Toulouse University, CNRS, UPS, Toulouse 31062, France
                Article
                10.1098/rstb.2019.0470
                © 2020

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