Preprint Review Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Social Conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum : A Matter of Scales

Version 1 : Received: 23 August 2020 / Approved: 25 August 2020 / Online: 25 August 2020 (13:34:39 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 15 January 2021 / Approved: 18 January 2021 / Online: 18 January 2021 (12:15:54 CET)

How to cite: Forget, M.; Adiba, S.; De Monte, S. Social Conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum : A Matter of Scales. Preprints 2020, 2020080554. Forget, M.; Adiba, S.; De Monte, S. Social Conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum : A Matter of Scales. Preprints 2020, 2020080554.


The ’social amoeba’ Dictyostelium discoideum, where aggregation of genet- ically heterogeneous cells produces functional collective structures, epitomizes social conflicts associated with multicellular organization. ’Cheater’ populations that have a higher chance – quantified by a positive spore bias – of surviving to the next generation are selectively advantaged. Their spread is thus expected to undermine collective functions over evolutionary times. In this review, we discuss the two main approaches adopted to conceptualize social conflicts in Dictyostelium discoideum: describing spore bias as a property of cell popula- tions (strains), or as a result of individual cell choices during the developmental process. These two points of view are often held equivalent and used inter- changeably. While the population-level view allows for more direct evolutionary inference, however, the cell-level interpretation reveals that such evolutionary predictions may be modified if developmental mechanisms, such as dependence on the environment and intrinsic unpredictability of cell fate choices, are taken into account. We conclude by proposing a set of open questions that in our opinion lie at the core of a multi-scale description of aggregative life cycles, where the formulation of predictive evolutionary models would include cell-level mechanisms responsible for spore bias alongside population-level descriptors of multicellular organization.


Cooperation; Aggregative mulicellularity; Social Conflicts; Evolution; Dictyostelium discoideum


Biology and Life Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 18 January 2021
Commenter: Mathieu FORGET
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: We have updated our mansucripts based on the reviews of two PCIEvolBiol reviewers.
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