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 Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>