Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Some cheaters can keep it in their genes

13.03.2008
A new study examining social behaviour suggests certain individuals are genetically programmed to cheat and often will do… providing they can get away with it.

The researchers looked at slime moulds – microscopic single-cell organisms or amoebae that are forced to cooperate with one another when food is in short supply. Studying slime moulds at the cellular level provides the scientists with a unique insight into the genes that may also influence human behaviour.

The international team, including biologists from The University of Manchester, found that some amoebae have the ability to use cheating tactics to give them a better chance of survival. The research – published in the journal Nature – not only demonstrates that cheating is a natural phenomenon governed by our genes but that it may be widespread among social creatures.

“Slime mould amoebae feed off bacteria in the soil but when food becomes scarce they aggregate to form a fruiting body of some 100,000 cells,” explained Dr Chris Thompson, in Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

“Some cells become the spore, while about one-quarter form a stalk. The stalk cells die – they appear to sacrifice themselves to allow the spore cells to be dispersed on the wind to new feeding grounds.”

The team’s earlier work had focused on this remarkable level of cooperation in the hope of gaining an insight into why some cells demonstrated such altruistic behaviour. They concluded that the selfless acts were due to the unacceptable cost of non-cooperation – without a stalk, no amoebae would escape to new feeding grounds and all would perish.

But this latest research has uncovered a dark and complex subplot where some cells cheat the system to give themselves a better chance of survival. And this deadly game must constantly evolve as cells find new and better ways of cheating in what is effectively an evolutionary arms race.

“Social behaviour is an unresolved problem in biology – why would anyone be altruistic and give up something for someone else?” said Dr Thompson. “Our findings suggest that there is no single answer able to explain our observations but that a number of factors are at play.

“An analogy can be drawn from people in a sinking boat. If some people cheat by refusing to bail out water they benefit by conserving energy and will last longer as a result. But if not enough people bail water, or those that do become too exhausted, then everyone, including the cheaters, will drown.

“Interestingly, we noted that cheats only cheated in the presence of non-cheaters – when they could get away with not ‘bailing water’. When surrounded by other cheaters, they contribute to the group effort again, ‘aware’ that if no one does, all of them will die.”

Aeron Haworth | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center

nachricht Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>