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The Social Amoebae:
The Biology of Cellular Slime Molds
John Tyler Bonner

Hardcover | 2009 | $28.95 | £23.95 | ISBN: 9780691139395
152 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 34 line illus.
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Featured News at Princeton Story: The 'sultan of slime'

John Bonner's slime mold movies
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(Bonner's slime mold movie)

Noted biologist and author John Tyler Bonner has experimented with cellular slime molds for more than sixty years, and he has done more than anyone else to raise these peculiar collections of amoebae from a minor biological curiosity to a major model organism--one that is widely studied for clues to the development and evolution of all living things. Now, five decades after he published his first pioneering book on cellular slime molds, Bonner steps back from the proliferating and increasingly specialized knowledge about the organism to provide a broad, nontechnical picture of its whole biology, including its evolution, sociobiology, ecology, behavior, and development. The Social Amoebae draws the big lessons from decades of research, and shows how slime molds fit into and illuminate biology as a whole.

Slime molds are very different from other organisms; they feed as individual amoebae before coming together to form a multicellular organism that has a remarkable ability to move and orient itself in its environment. Furthermore, these social amoebae display a sophisticated division of labor; within each organism, some cells form the stalk and others become the spores that will seed the next generation. In The Social Amoebae, Bonner examines all these parts together, giving a balanced, concise, and clear overview of slime mold biology, from molecules to cells to multicells, as he advances some unconventional and unexpected insights.


"Bonner does not get lost in abstract realms or in reams of facts. His book is very interesting and even exciting at times. He always stays grounded by returning readers to nature, to the forest soil where the slime molds are carrying out their various life-cycle activities. I was reluctant to put the book down once I started and was sad at the end because I wanted to read more."--James C. Cavender, Quarterly Review of Biology

"The Social Amoebae is an enlightening and enjoyable read for the layperson and professional who would like to share in the biological insight and knowledge gained by John Tyler Bonner as a result of his lifelong relationship with cellular slime molds."--Randy Wayne, Bioscience


"Few scientists or authors can claim that the analyses and insights in their latest book are based on sixty years of original research, exploration, and childlike enthusiasm. We should be enormously grateful that John Tyler Bonner could make that claim about the career he has spent with cellular slime molds. His book is beautifully written, enlightening, fascinating, historical yet up-to-date, whimsical when appropriate, and informative throughout in its analysis of two of evolution's major themes--multicellular organization and sociality."--Brian Hall, coauthor of Strickberger's Evolution

"The Social Amoebae provides a rounded and complete picture of cellular slime mold biology for the interested lay person, but even researchers in the field will learn a lot. John Tyler Bonner ties the ecological context to developmental questions and connects modern molecular data to ingenious experiments performed more than forty years ago. Written in an easy, flowing, elegant style, the book is spiced up with delightful anecdotes, and I very much enjoyed reading it."--Pauline Schaap, University of Dundee

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Table of Contents:

Preface vii
Chapter 1: Introduction 1
Chapter 2: The Life Cycle 7
Chapter 3: Evolution 17
Chapter 4: Ecology 35
Chapter 5: Behavior of Amoebae and Cell Masses 43
Chapter 6: Morphogenesis 87
Chapter 7: Differentiation 95
Chapter 8: The Future 121
Bibliography 129
Index 141

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