“Cooperation and the Fate of Microbial Societies”
May 5, 2013
Benjamin Allen and Martin A. Nowak
Article word count: 1,748
Review word count: 1054+
The article I chose asks the question of how much cooperation do microbial societies need to have to survive. Microorganisms do have to coordinate and cooperate with each other to form many structures, for example, biofilms. It is true that the microorganisms are constantly communicating with each other and joining together to form different structures, it is questionable though how much cooperation or give and take the two different microbes need to survive. The two different types of microbes are referred to as cooperating microbes or cheating microbes. The cooperating microbes are the microbes that generously cooperate and contribute with each other. The cheaters are the microbes that take what they can get from the cooperating microbes so that they don’t have to do any work. The microbe societies are fully capable of thriving with both types of microbes, but no one really knows how. Many scientists worry that the increase of cheaters will wipe out the microbe societies.
Scientists are constantly wondering how the microbial societies overcome their dilemmas between cooperating and cheating microbes. Some believe that the societies have evolved in such a way that the different types of microbes balance each other out. There are mathematical models of how natural selection can change the proportion of cooperators and cheaters. The strains, cooperators and cheaters, have always worked together to form biofilms, iron-scavenging agents, chemicals that can resist antibiotics, and form fruiting bodies. This compound of wild-type strain begs the question of what conditions do the strains prefer.
In an experiment done to test the preferred conditions of the microbes, Gore found that the results were congruent of modern theoretical predictions. Gore wanted to study the evolution of the...