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

"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."


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Source:Imperial College London


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