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What’s on your boots: an investigation into the role we play in protist dispersal

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D. M. Wilkinson (2010, Journal of Biogeography, 37, 393–397) suggested that anthropogenic dispersal is an understudied and potentially important factor in terrestrial protist biogeography. We investigated human footwear as a potential vector of dictyostelids, a diverse group of amoebae that includes both geographically restricted and cosmopolitan species. Eighteen pairs of boots were examined and dictyostelids were isolated from nearly all samples larger than 5.0 g. In total, six dictyostelid isolates were recovered, corresponding to four species –Dictyostelium minutum, D. sphaerocephalum, D. leptosomopsis and a new species, Polysphondylium sp. 1. Myxogastrid amoebae and acrasid‐like aggregations were also observed. Thus anthropogenic dispersal of naked amoebae appears to occur. The possible role of variations in dictyostelid fruiting body morphologies in dispersal potential is also discussed. These results support Wilkinson’s proposal and suggest that dictyostelids may be a useful group with which to study anthropogenic dispersal of terrestrial protists.

Document Type: Correspondence

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2012.02691.x

Affiliations: Department of Systematic Biology, Evolutionary Biology Center, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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