Resource supply and the evolution of public-goods cooperation in bacteria
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Background: Explaining public-goods cooperation is a challenge for evolutionary biology. However, cooperation is expected to more readily evolve if it imposes a smaller cost. Such costs of cooperation are expected to decline with increasing resource supply, an ecological parameter that varies widely in nature. We experimentally tested the effect of resource supply on the evolution of cooperation using two well-studied bacterial public-good traits: biofilm formation by Pseudomonas fluorescens and siderophore production by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Results: The frequency of cooperative bacteria increased with resource supply in the context of both bacterial public-good traits. In both cases this was due to decreasing costs of investment into public-goods cooperation with increasing resource supply. Conclusion: Our empirical tests with bacteria suggest that public-goods cooperation is likely to increase with increasing resource supply due to reduced costs of cooperation, confirming that resource supply is an important factor in the evolution of cooperation.
Brockhurst , M A , Buckling , A , Racey , D & Gardner , A 2008 , ' Resource supply and the evolution of public-goods cooperation in bacteria ' BMC Biology , vol 6 , 20 . DOI: 10.1186/1741-7007-6-20
© 2008 Brockhurst et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This work was funded by the Wellcome Trust VIP scheme (administered by the University of Liverpool Research Development Fund), the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society. Both AB and AG are supported by Royal Society University Research Fellowships.
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