Diversity Promotes Cooperation Among Microbes

By paulbhartzog, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 27 weeks ago.

A fascinating paper about microbial cooperation on biofilms:

Understanding how cooperation evolves and is maintained
represents one of evolutionary biology's thorniest problems. This
stems from the fact that freeloading cheats will evolve to exploit
any cooperative group that doesn't defend itself, leading to the
breakdown of cooperation. New research using the bacterium
Pseudomonas fluorescens has identified a novel mechanism that thwarts
the evolution of cheats and broadens our understanding of how
cooperation might be maintained in nature and human societies. The
new findings are reported by Michael Brockhurst of the University of
Liverpool and colleagues at the Université Montpellier and the
University of Oxford in the October 24th issue of the journal Current
Biology, published by Cell Press.

Diversity Promotes Cooperation Among Microbes

This reminds me of another earlier paper by Jan-Ulrich Kreft that appeared in the journal Microbiology:

The origin of altruism is a fundamental problem in evolution, and the maintenance of biodiversity is a fundamental problem in ecology. These two problems combine with the fundamental microbiological question of whether it is always advantageous for a unicellular organism to grow as fast as possible. The common basis for these three themes is a trade-off between growth rate and growth yield, which in turn is based on irreversible thermodynamics.... Coexistence of species requires differences between their niches, and niche space is typically divided into four ‘axes' (time, space, resources, predators). This neglects survival strategies based on cooperation, which extend the possibilities of coexistence, arguing for the inclusion of cooperation as the fifth ‘axis’.

Biofilms Promote Altruism

Summary of results with links to movies