Discipline: Biological Sciences
Subcategory: Cell and Molecular Biology
Keira Williams - Spelman College
Microbial eukaryotes like amoeba have been and still are viewed as asexual organisms. However, current research suggests that some species of amoebae may participate in sexual-like, or ‘parasexual’ activity. Such interactions are termed parasexual because the usual activity seen during meiosis, such as the typical joining of the gametes, does not occur. Neverthless, an exchange of genetic information, one of the principle characteristics of sexual activity, has been speculated to occur in some amoebozoans like Cochliopodium. The reason and mechanism for this activity still remains unknown due to the unpredictability of the parasexual behavior in amoebozoans. In this investigation, several species of amoebae including Flabellula citata, Flabellula calkinsi, Telaepolella tubasferens, Flamella fluviatilis, and Arcella vulgaris, were observed for a type of parasexual activity termed fusion, in which the plasma membrane, and/or the nuclei of the cells come together. In some species, after fusion activity was seen, the amoeba subsequently fragmented, or underwent fission. Light microscopy as well as immunocytochemistry was used to verify the occurrence of fusion and fission in the amoeba. Preliminary data based on light microscopy demonstrates that these amoebas undergo fusion-like activity, particularly F. citata where large ‘clumps’ of cells are observed in actively growing cultures. This behavior is currently being investigated using advanced techniques including immunocytochemistry. Our results from this analysis will conclusively demonstrate if these amoebas are strictly asexual, or involved in parasexul behavior.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): I thank Dr. Yonas Tekle and Dr. Jessica Williams for guidance with this project. Funding was provided by an NSF/RIA grant to Dr. Yonas Tekle.
Faculty Advisor: Yonas Tekle,