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Data from: Phenotypic variability in unicellular organisms: from calcium signaling to social behavior

Citation

Vogel, David et al. (2015), Data from: Phenotypic variability in unicellular organisms: from calcium signaling to social behavior, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.s0qc1

Abstract

Historically, research has focused on the mean and often neglected the variance. However, variability in nature is observable at all scales: among cells within an individual, among individuals within a population and among populations within a species. A fundamental quest in biology now is to find the mechanisms that underlie variability. Here, we investigated behavioural variability in a unique unicellular organism, Physarum polycephalum. We combined experiments and models to show that variability in cell signalling contributes to major differences in behaviour underpinning some aspects of social interactions. First, following thousands of cells under various contexts, we identified distinct behavioural phenotypes: ‘slow–regular–social’, ‘fast–regular–social’ and ‘fast–irregular–asocial’. Second, coupling chemical analysis and behavioural assays we found that calcium signalling is responsible for these behavioural phenotypes. Finally, we show that differences in signalling and behaviour led to alternative social strategies. Our results have considerable implications for our understanding of the emergence of variability in living organisms.

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