Amoebae of Dictyostelium discoideum produce tracks with two distinct morphologies on gold-coated coverslips. The wild-type strain and other strains that feed only by phagocytosis produced indistinct, fuzzy tracks, whereas mutants capable of axenic growth produced clear, sharp tracks. The sharp track morphology was found to be a recessive phenotype that segregates with axenicity and probably requires a previously unidentified axenic mutation. Axenic and nonaxenic strains also differed in their ability to pinocytose. When the two types of cells were shifted from bacterial growth plates to nutrient media, within 24 h the axenic strain established a rapid rate of pinocytosis, approximately 100-fold higher than the low rate detectable for the nonaxenic strain. However, track formation did not appear to be directly related to endocytosis. Electron microscopic examination of cells during track formation showed that both axenic and nonaxenic strains accumulated gold particles on their surfaces, but neither strain internalized the gold to any significant degree. Observation of living cells revealed that axenic strains collected all particles that they contacted, whereas wild-type strains left many particles undisturbed. The size of the gold particle clusters discarded by the cells also contributed to track morphology.

This content is only available as a PDF.