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27. November 16:15 - 18:00Evolution of metabolic cooperation within microbial communities

Ort: Gebäude 93, Raum E07

Veranstalter: Institut für Umweltsystemforschung

Kategorie: Systemwissenschaftliches Kolloquium

Referent: Prof. Dr. Christian Kost |

Cooperative interactions pose an evolutionary conundrum: why should one organism invest costly resources to benefit another individual and not use them to enhance its own fitness? Despite this problem, obligate interactions, in which two or more microorganisms exchange costly metabolites, are very common in natural microbial communities. However, the factors facilitating the evolution of metabolic cooperation as well as the consequences resulting for the interacting partners, remain poorly understood. We address this issue experimentally by analysing genetically engineered and experimentally evolved cooperative cross-feeding interactions. Our experiments reveal that adaptive advantages drive the evolution of cooperative cross-feeding: by loosing the ability to autonomously produce certain metabolites, bacteria become dependent on other community members producing these compounds. These metabolic interdependencies trigger a coevolutionary process, during which mutual cooperative investments rapidly increase. This process is guided by self-organizing principles that emerge from local interactions among individual cells and give rise to a strong competition among groups of cells. Together, the presented results suggests bacteria likely function as multicellular, interconnected entities rather than as individual, physiologically autonomous units.

University of Osnabrück, Division of Ecology