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.
Bacteria are known to cooperate in a wide variety of ways, including the formation of multicellular structures called biofilms. P. fluorescens biofilms are formed when individual cells overproduce a polymer that sticks the cells together, allowing the colonization of liquid surfaces. While production of the polymer is metabolically costly to individual cells, the biofilm group benefits from the increased access to oxygen that surface colonization provides. However, cheating types rapidly evolve that live in the biofilm but don't produce the polymer. The presence of cheats weakens the biofilm, imperiling its survival by causing it to sink.
In the new work, the researchers studied the effect of short-term evolution of diversity within the biofilm on the success of cooperation. The researchers found that within biofilms, diverse cooperators evolved to use different nutrient resources, thereby reducing the competition for resources within the biofilm. The researchers then manipulated diversity within experimental biofilms and found that diverse biofilms contained fewer cheats and can produce larger groups than non-diverse biofilms. The findings indicate that, as in ecological communities, biodiversity within biofilms is beneficial--moreover, the authors point out that this is the first time that such ideas have been applied in the context of social evolution, and it represents a new way in which cooperation can survive in the face of cheating. Furthermore, the new work sheds light on how division of labor within multicellular organisms may initially have evolved in order to minimize functional redundancy among cells and to increase efficiency.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
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...
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...
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,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy