Propagating waves control Dictyostelium discoideum morphogenesis

Biophys Chem. 1998 May 5;72(1-2):21-35. doi: 10.1016/s0301-4622(98)00120-3.


The morphogenesis of Dictyostelium results from the coordinated movement of starving cells to form a multicellular aggregate (mound) which transforms into a motile slug and finally a fruiting body. Cells differentiate in the mound and sort out to form an organised pattern in the slug and fruiting body. During aggregation, cell movement is controlled by propagating waves of the chemo-attractant cAMP. We show that mounds are also organised by propagating waves. Their geometry changes from target or single armed spirals during aggregation to multi-armed spiral waves in the mound. Some mounds develop transiently into rings in which multiple propagating wave fronts can still be seen. We model cell sorting in the mound stage assuming cell type specific differences in cell movement speed and excitability. This sorting feeds back on the wave geometry to generate twisted scroll waves in the slug. Slime mould morphogenesis can be understood in terms of wave propagation directing chemotactic cell movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology
  • Dictyostelium / growth & development
  • Dictyostelium / physiology*
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Models, Biological


  • Cyclic AMP