« Habituation in non neural organisms, evidence from slime molds » Audrey Dussutour – Tuesday, December 18th 2018 at 4pm, Monge room
Learning, defined as a change in behavior evoked by experience, has hitherto been investigated almost exclusively in multicellular neural organisms. Evidence for learning in non-neural multicellular organisms is scant and only a few unequivocal reports of learning have been described in single celled organisms. In this conference, in a first part, I will attempt to demonstrate habituation, a simple form of learning, in a unicellular organism Physarum polycephalum. In a second part of this conference, I will show that habituation can be transferred from one cell to another via cell fusion. In a last part, I will present a potential mechanism responsible for habituation in slime molds. All these results suggest that slime moulds may be an ideal model system in which to investigate fundamental mechanisms underlying the ground-floor of learning abilities. Besides, documenting habituation in non-neural organisms such as slime moulds is centrally important to a comprehensive, phylogenetic understanding of when and where in the tree of life the earliest manifestations of habituation evolved.