1932

Abstract

Cooperation has fascinated biologists since Darwin. How did cooperative behaviors evolve despite the fitness cost to the cooperator? Bacteria have cooperative behaviors that make excellent models to take on this age-old problem from both proximate (molecular) and ultimate (evolutionary) angles. We delve into swarming, a phenomenon where billions of bacteria move cooperatively across distances of centimeters in a matter of a few hours. Experiments with swarming have unveiled a strategy called metabolic prudence that stabilizes cooperation, have showed the importance of spatial structure, and have revealed a regulatory network that integrates environmental stimuli and direct cooperative behavior, similar to a machine learning algorithm. The study of swarming elucidates more than proximate mechanisms: It exposes ultimate mechanisms valid to all scales, from cells in cancerous tumors to animals in large communities.

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2019-09-08
2024-04-13
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