Observing bacteria through the lens of social evolution. J Biol 7:27

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
Journal of Biology 10/2008; 7(7):27. DOI: 10.1186/jbiol87
Source: PubMed


Explaining the evolution of cooperative behavior is a long-standing problem for which much theory has been developed. A recent paper in BMC Biology tests central elements of this theory by manipulating a simple bacterial experimental system. This approach is useful for assessing the principles of social evolution, but we argue that more effort must be invested in the inverse problem: using social evolution theory to understand the lives of bacteria.

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Available from: Carey D Nadell, Jan 30, 2014
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    • "For additional background, readers are encouraged to see alternative reviews on the following themes: taxa descriptions (Shimkets et al., 2006; Velicer and Hillesland, 2008), secondary metabolism diversity (Weissman and Müller, 2010), A-motility evolution (Chapter 9 and Luciano et al., 2011), myxobacterial social evolution (Velicer and Hillesland, 2008; Velicer and Vos, 2009) and microbial social evolution more broadly (e.g. Foster et al., 2007; Nadell et al., 2008; Strassmann et al., 2011; Strassmann and Queller, 2011; Travisano and Velicer, 2004; Velicer and Vos, 2009; West, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent discoveries have found the myxobacteria to be much more diverse - both across and within species - than previously known, from global to micrometer spatial scales. Evolutionary analysis of such extant diversity promises to reveal much about how myxobacteria have adapted to natural ecological habitats in the past and continue to evolve in the present, particularly with regard to their intriguing social phenotypes. Experimental populations propagated under defined laboratory conditions undergo very rapid evolution at cooperative traits in a manner that radically changes their social composition. Analysis of such experimentally evolved populations allows detailed characterization of social evolutionary dynamics in real time. Moreover, traditional genetic tools and new genome sequencing technologies together allow deep investigation of the molecular basis of adaptation by experimental populations to known ecological habitats, which in turn can lead to new discoveries regarding the molecular mechanisms governing social behavior.
    Full-text · Chapter · Feb 2014
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    • "Bacteria, for instance, produce, release and sense signaling molecules (so-called autoinducers) which can diffuse in the environment and are used for population coordination. This mechanism, known as quorum sensing (Miller & Bassler 2001, Nardelli et al. 2008, Ng & Bassler 2009) is believed to play a key role in bacterial infection, as well as e.g. in bioluminescence and biofilm formation (Anetzberger et al. 2009), (Nadell et al. 2008). In a neuronal context, a mechanism similar to that of quorum sensing may involve local field potentials, which may play an important role in the synchronization of clusters of neurons, (Pesaran et al. 2002, Boustani et al. 2009, Tabareau et al. 2010, Anastassiou et al. 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: In many natural synchronization phenomena, communication between individual elements occurs not directly, but rather through the environment. One of these instances is bacterial quorum sensing, where bacteria release signaling molecules in the environment which in turn are sensed and used for population coordination. Extending this motivation to a general non- linear dynamical system context, this paper analyzes synchronization phenomena in networks where communication and coupling between nodes are mediated by shared dynamical quan- tities, typically provided by the nodes' environment. Our model includes the case when the dynamics of the shared variables themselves cannot be neglected or indeed play a central part. Applications to examples from systems biology illustrate the approach.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Physical Review E
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    • "Cooperation is widespread in the biological world, especially in human societies. Bacteria signal one another by exuding chemicals, and exchange mutual favours (Wingreen & Levin 2006; Nadell et al. 2008a,b). Amoebae organize themselves into slime molds, insects into swarms, birds into flocks, fish into schools, ungulates into herds. "
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    ABSTRACT: Two conflicting tendencies can be seen throughout the biological world: individuality and collective behaviour. Natural selection operates on differences among individuals, rewarding those who perform better. Nonetheless, even within this milieu, cooperation arises, and the repeated emergence of multicellularity is the most striking example. The same tendencies are played out at higher levels, as individuals cooperate in groups, which compete with other such groups. Many of our environmental and other global problems can be traced to such conflicts, and to the unwillingness of individual agents to take account of the greater good. One of the great challenges in achieving sustainability will be in understanding the basis of cooperation, and in taking multicellularity to yet a higher level, finding the pathways to the level of cooperation that is the only hope for the preservation of the planet.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2010 · Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences
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