Dictyostelium discoideum offers unique advantages for studying fundamental cellular processes, host-pathogen interactions as well as the molecular causes of human diseases. The organism can be easily grown in large amounts and is amenable to diverse biochemical, cell biological and genetic approaches. Throughout their life cycle Dictyostelium cells are motile, and thus are perfectly suited to study random and directed cell motility with the underlying changes in signal transduction and the actin cytoskeleton. Dictyostelium is also increasingly used for the investigation of human disease genes and the crosstalk between host and pathogen. As a professional phagocyte it can be infected with several human bacterial pathogens and used to study the infection process. The availability of a large number of knock-out mutants renders Dictyostelium particularly useful for the elucidation and investigation of host cell factors. A powerful armory of molecular genetic techniques that have been continuously expanded over the years and a well curated genome sequence, which is accessible via the online database dictyBase, considerably strengthened Dictyostelium's experimental attractiveness and its value as model organism. (c) 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.