|Abstract:Phagocytes are cells that pursue, engulf and kill bacteria. They include macrophages and neutrophils of the mammalian immune system, as well as free-living amoebae that hunt and engulf bacteria for food. Phagocytosis can result in diverse outcomes, ranging from sustenance to infection and colonization by either pathogens or beneficial symbionts-and thus, discrimination may be necessary to seek out good bacteria while avoiding bad ones. Here we tested whether the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum can discriminate among different types of bacteria using behavioural assays where amoebae were presented with paired choices of different bacteria. We observed variation in the extent to which the amoebae pursued different types of bacteria, as well as preferential migration towards Gram-negative compared with Gram-positive bacteria. Response profiles were similar for amoebae that originated from different geographical locations, suggesting that chase preference is conserved across much of the species range. While prior work has demonstrated that bacteria use chemotaxis to seek out amoebae they colonize, our work suggests that the opposite also occurs-amoebae can preferentially direct themselves to particular bacteria in the environment. Preferential sensing and response may help to explain why some amoeba-bacteria associations are more common in nature than others.