Sunderland, Mary E.
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Dictyostelium discoideum is a cellular slime mold that serves as an important model organism in a variety of fields. Cellular slime molds have an unusual life cycle. They exist as separate amoebae, but after consuming all the bacteria in their area they proceed to stream together to form a multicellular organism. These features make it a valuable tool for studying developmental processes and also for investigating the evolution of multicellularity. Long thought to be a type of fungus, it has recently been shown that slime molds in fact bear no relation to fungi. Rather they form the monophyletic Mycetozoa, which consists of three distinct groups: plasmodial slime molds; cellular slime molds; and the Protostelia, all of which are structurally similar and consist of a fruiting body supported by a stalk. The cellular slime molds are characterized by a life cycle that includes periods of both multicellularity and unicellularity.