Aerial migration of the Dictyostelium slug

Dev Growth Differ. 2005 Jan;47(1):49-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169x.2004.00778.x.


The Dictyostelium slug lays down curved marks in its slime sheath trail as it migrates across an agar substrate. These 'footprints' are caused by elevation of the slug anterior as it initiates a period of aerial migration and can be used as a measure of the slug's propensity for this behavior. A variety of factors have been found to affect the number of footprints created per distance migrated. Smaller slugs produce a higher incidence of footprints than larger slugs. Migration in the light and lower temperatures during migration increase footprint incidence. Activated charcoal reduces, while exogenous addition of ammonia increases, the incidence of footprints. Simulation of the three-dimensional (3D) environment of the soil suggests that aerial migration plays a role in the slug's movement through the cavities of its natural environment. A model proposes that aerial migration is initiated by a small group of continually changing prestalk cells that acts as a pacemaker and is moved around the circumference of the slug tip by the rotation of the prestalk cells. As this pacemaker reaches the upper surface of the slug it can initiate aerial migration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Agar
  • Ammonia / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Charcoal / pharmacology
  • Dictyostelium / cytology
  • Dictyostelium / physiology*
  • Light
  • Models, Biological*
  • Observation


  • Charcoal
  • Ammonia
  • Agar