Quorum Sensing and Density-Dependent Dispersal in an Aquatic Model System

Abstract : Many organisms use cues to decide whether to disperse or not, especially those related to the composition of their environment. Dispersal hence sometimes depends on population density, which can be important for the dynamics and evolution of subdivided populations. But very little is known about the factors that organisms use to inform their dispersal decision. We investigated the cues underlying density-dependent dispersal in interconnected microcosms of the freshwater protozoan Paramecium caudatum. In two experiments, we manipulated (i) the number of cells per microcosm and (ii) the origin of their culture medium (supernatant from high-or low-density populations). We found a negative relationship between population density and rates of dispersal, suggesting the use of physical cues. There was no significant effect of culture medium origin on dispersal and thus no support for chemical cues usage. These results suggest that the perception of density-and as a result, the decision to disperse-in this organism can be based on physical factors. This type of quorum sensing may be an adaptation optimizing small scale monitoring of the environment and swarm formation in open water
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Simon Fellous, Alison Duncan, Aurélie Coulon, Oliver Kaltz. Quorum Sensing and Density-Dependent Dispersal in an Aquatic Model System. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2012, 7 (11), pp.e48436. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0048436⟩. ⟨hal-02353392⟩

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