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'Policing' stops cheaters from dominating groups of cooperative bacteria
Date:5/26/2011

nd other difficult conditions.

In mixed fruiting bodies containing both "cheater" and "cooperator" strains, the cheater strain utilized by Manhes and Velicer does not contribute a social signal required for making spores, whereas the cooperative strain does. Defection from making a social contribution allows cheater cells to "steal" the social signal from cooperators and convert a larger proportion of their cells into spores than do cooperators. Thus, the cheater strain loses to the cooperator strain when they develop in separate groups, but the cheater wins in mixed groups where they directly interact with cooperators.

The scientists mixed cooperative and cheating strains of M. xanthus and allowed cooperator lineages -- but not the cheater -- to evolve under starvation conditions in which cooperative construction of fruiting bodies is important for survival. They then watched to see how replicate lineages descended from the cooperator strain would evolve while repeatedly encountering the same non-evolving cheater over many consecutive cycles of fruiting body development.

Both strains were exposed to an antibiotic during a growth phase after each cycle of development. Cheater cells are sensitive to the antibiotic and were killed off, whereas cooperator cells were resistant to the antibiotic and their populations could continue growing and evolving. The same non-evolving cheater strain was reintroduced to the evolving cooperator lineages at the beginning of each cycle of fruiting body development and removed at the end of each cycle. The evolution experiment was allowed to run for 20 cycles of development.

"We tested whether cooperators adapted to the presence of a cheater mainly by changing their social interactions with that cheater or by improving their spore production in a way that is independent of their social environment," Manhes said. "We found that the lineages descended from the cooperative ancestor evolved novel i
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Contact: Steve Chaplin
stjchap@indiana.edu
812-856-1896
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3 4

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'Policing' stops cheaters from dominating groups of cooperative bacteria
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