Programmed death in a unicellular organism has species-specific fitness effects

Pierre M. Durand, Rajdeep Choudhury, Armin Rashidi, Richard E. Michod

Abstract

Programmed cell death (PCD) is an ancient phenomenon and its origin and maintenance in unicellular life is unclear. We report that programmed death provides differential fitness effects that are species specific in the model organism Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Remarkably, PCD in this organism not only benefits others of the same species, but also has an inhibitory effect on the growth of other species. These data reveal that the fitness effects of PCD can depend upon genetic relatedness.

  • Received December 20, 2013.
  • Accepted February 6, 2014.
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