The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 63: 333 - 342 (2019)

Vol 63, Issue 8-9-10

Special Issue: The Dictyostelium model system

Individual and collective behaviour in cellular slime mould development: contributions of John Bonner (1920-2019)

Published: 11 December 2019

Vidyanand Nanjundiah*

Centre for Human Genetics, Bangalore, India


John Bonner used the cellular slime moulds to address issues that lie at the heart of evolutionary and developmental biology. He did so mostly by combining acute observation and a knack for asking the right questions with the methods of classical embryology. The present paper focusses on his contributions to understanding two phenomena that are characteristic of development in general: chemotaxis of single cells to an external attractant, and spatial patterning and proportioning of cell types in the multicellular aggregate. Brief mention is also made of other areas of slime mould biology where he made significant inputs. He saw cellular slime moulds as exemplars of development and worthy of study in their own right. His ideas continue to inspire researchers.


chemotaxis, Dictyostelium, proportioning, sorting out, evo-devo

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