Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Survival of the selfless - scientists find cheats don’t always prosper

26.05.2006


Selfishness is not necessarily the best survival trait for microorganisms, according to researchers studying the comparative effectiveness of ‘cheating’ and ‘cooperating’ strains of yeast.



Writing in the journal Nature today, the team reports that studies of lab-grown yeast populations suggest the benefits of cheating are eventually counterbalanced by the costs. This contradicts classic evolutionary theory, which states that in a competition for common resources the long-term winner will always be the individual acting selfishly rather than the one working as part of a group.

To test this theory, scientists set up a series of competitions between two strains of yeast. The strains are identical apart from the genes that determine whether they convert energy from resources such as sugar rapidly or if they convert it efficiently.


In one corner were the ‘cooperators’, which produce energy efficiently by taking in sugar slowly and fully converting into energy all that they ingest. This method maximises resources available to the group by avoiding any waste.

Against them were the ‘cheaters’, which produce energy rapidly by quickly taking in all the sugar they can and only partially converting it into energy. While this ensures swift energy production for the individual, it is a wasteful method that reduces resources available for the group as a whole.

The researchers were surprised to find that in a well-mixed population the cooperators were not excluded by the cheats. Further experiments and mathematical modelling established that this is because cheats accumulate toxins as a direct result of taking in resources more quickly than they can digest them, which limits the level of energy they derive from the sugar. This enables the cooperators to hold their own, meaning that the two different strains could coexist over the long-term without either being excluded. Lead researcher Dr Craig MacLean of Imperial College London says:

“This evidence that a cooperative group can resist invasion by exploitative cheats is unexpected and gives us greater insight into how cooperation evolves. This is important because we live in a world in which cooperations exists at every level, from genes working together to build functioning individuals to individuals forming societies.”

The researchers suggest that the ideal organism type would be one that can switch between selfish and efficient metabolism. Dr MacLean adds:

“While microbes are obviously not capable of rational thought, they can change their behaviour rapidly in response to simple environmental cues. The possibility that one type could become both a cheater and a cooperator depending on what’s needed at the time is intriguing. We hope examining social conflict at the level of individual cells will shed more light on this.”

Abigail Smith | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>