SUMMARY: A hitherto unidentified volatile substance(s) is known to induce macrocyst formation in a strain (Dm 7) of and in a mutant (MF 1) derived from it. The properties of this substance suggested that it might be ethylene, and here it is shown that this is indeed the case. The addition of ethylene to MF 1 cells, in conditions otherwise favouring sorocarp formation, induced the formation of macrocysts. Conversely, the addition of mercury perchlorate, an absorbent of ethylene, inhibited macrocyst formation and induced sorocarp formation under conditions otherwise favouring macrocyst formation. Two inhibitors of ethylene synthesis, aminooxyacetic acid and aminoethoxyvinyl glycine, also inhibited macrocyst formation. Production and release of ethylene by cells was confirmed by gas chromatography.


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