No, those are not cars darting along a busy highway. The glowing specks you're seeing in this video (http://bit.ly/110LTfm) are millions of nuclei flowing through the tube-like filaments, or hyphae, of a single fungus cell.
The video was produced as part of a study by UCLA mathematician Marcus Roper's research group that was the first to measure and explain this dynamic movement of nuclei in the cells of a fungus.
"It's complex, beautiful and so dynamic," said Roper, an assistant professor of mathematics and the lead author of two new studies that cast light on how cells ingeniously adapt to physical challenges.
The research, conducted with a group led by UC Berkeley life scientist Louise Glass, focused on the fungus Neurospora crassa and was published July 16 in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with print publication to follow.
Fungus cells, unlike animal and plant cells, can contain more than one nucleus, and in N. crassa cells, multiple, genetically different nuclei coexist in the same cell space.
Having genetically different nuclei within a single cell benefits a fungus by making it more infectious, Roper said. However, this advantage only works if each part of the fungus contains a mixture of each type of genetically different nuclei.
This is where the traffic-like flow comes in. As the cell's tubular filaments containing the nuclei grow, the flow process continuously distributes the different nuclei throughout the fungus cell, keeping them well mixed for maximum advantage.
"The fungus is keeping all of its nuclei very well mixed. If the nuclei weren't all traveling along complex highways, they would separate out as the fungus grows," Roper said. "As you go deeper into the colony, the flow gets more complicated. It's like a traffic system. It starts to look
|Contact: Stuart Wolpert|
University of California - Los Angeles