Genome of giant amoeba reveals evolutionary secrets

Physarum polycephalumPhysarum polycephalum (“many-headed slime”) is a giant amoeba with similarities to the common ancestor of amoeba, fungi and animals. Our lab helped analyze its genome to show that it has molecular features that were once thought to be specific for either animals or plants. Like animals (but unlike plants or fungi), Physarum uses tyrosine-kinase signaling for processing. Nick Buchler analyzed cell cycle regulators in Physarum and other amoeboid genomes to show that Physarum may be a better model organism than yeast and fungi for studying conserved mechanisms of cell cycle regulation in the ancestor of amoeba and animals.

Schaap P et al, The Physarum polycephalum genome reveals extensive use of prokaryotic two-component and metazoan-type tyrosine kinase signaling. Genome Biol Evol. 8: 109 (2016)