Filutowicz Lab 
      The Raper Archive

Read more about 
Dr. Raper


Although investigations of slime molds date back to the 19th century, modern studies are heavily focused on a single species, Dictyostelium discoideum. The history of Dictyostelium research is richly associated with UW-Madison beginning with the discovery and characterization of the organism by Prof. Kenneth Raper of the Bacteriology Department. This lower eukaryote has evolved to occupy diverse ecological niches, being found in temperate, tropical and desert soil.


Where It All Began...

In the late 20th century, D. discoideum became a model organism for investigations of chemotaxis and multicellular development. In recent decades, “Dicty” has been reinvented as a model organism for studies of infectious disease. Today, our research is aimed at reinventing the scientific role of slime molds yet again by exploring their potential to provide us with new antibacterial agents. And in a couple of ways, that brings the story back, full circle, to Dr. Raper. He was no stranger to applied antimicrobial research after all, having been an important player in transitioning penicillin to mass production during World War II. And before that effort began he pondered, perhaps prophetically:

The question arises, naturally, as to whether any practical significance can rightfully be attributed to the ability of Dictylostelelium discoideum to feed upon pathogenic bacteria.
– Dr. Kenneth B. Raper, 1939

Amassed by: Dr. Kenneth Raper
Collected from: ~1940 - 1982
Number of isolates: > 1,200
Number of countries: > 20
Niches: dung, cactus needles,
       cultivated fields, prairie
       grasses, forest floors,
       marshes, & mesa sands
Genera: mainly Dictyostelium
          & Polysphondelium 
Species: > 40