The sequence of regulatory events in the sporulation control network of Physarum polycephalum analysed by time-resolved somatic complementation of mutants

Protist. 2002 Dec;153(4):391-400. doi: 10.1078/14344610260450127.


The developmental decision for sporulation of Physarum polycephalum plasmodia is under sensory control by environmental factors like visible light or heat shock and endogenous signals like glucose starvation. Several hours after perceiving an inductive stimulus, plasmodia become committed to sporulation; thereby, they lose their unlimited replicative potential and execute a developmental program that involves differentiation into various cell types required to form a mature fruiting body. Plasmodia are multinuclear single cells which spontaneously fuse upon physical contact. Fusion of mutant plasmodia and cytoplasmic mixing allows complementation studies to be performed at the functional level. Mutant cells altered in their ability to sporulate in response to phytochrome activation by far-red light were cured by fusion with wild-type or other mutant plasmodia. Phytochrome activation in one plasmodium and subsequent fusion with a non-induced plasmodium revealed that complementation of the two mutations depended on (i) which of two genetically distinct plasmodial cells was stimulated; and (ii) on the delay time elapsed between stimulation and cytoplasmic mixing. Such experiments allow us to determine the kinetics and the causal sequence of the regulatory events tagged by mutation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Fusion
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Morphogenesis / radiation effects
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / radiation effects
  • Physarum polycephalum / genetics
  • Physarum polycephalum / growth & development
  • Physarum polycephalum / physiology*
  • Physarum polycephalum / radiation effects
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / physiology
  • Spores, Protozoan


  • Protozoan Proteins