Show Details

Amoeba Movement

March 8, 2007

A listener asks: How do amoebas move, anyway?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Mysterious microbe mobility. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Despite having no legs and only one cell, amoebas can move purposefully. A listener asked how they do it. University of Iowa biologist David Soll explains that the amoeba extends part of its body forward, creating a pseudopod, or false foot. Pseudopods can form anywhere on the amoeba anytime, and Soll says they would, if they weren’t chemically regulated.

DAVID SOLL (University of Iowa):
There’s an expansion in front, and the inhibition of making false feet in the back, so that it can move in the right direction. And this is just becoming clear.

HIRSHON:
Exactly how this is regulated, and how the rest of the cell follows behind, remains a mystery. Soll and other researchers are trying to find out, because many of our bodies’ cells move in similar ways—including embryonic cells, which can cause birth defects if they make a false step.

If you’ve got a science question, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.