Emergent Cooperation

My good friend and labmate just published an awesome paper: "Emergent cooperation in microbial metabolism." His experiment started with 46 strains of E. coli that had mutations in their metabolic pathways that prevented them from being able to grow without supplementing the media with extra metabolites. Alone they died, but grown together in the same tube, many pairs of mutants were able to feed each other the missing metabolite. Metabolic cooperation was the key to survival.


Measuring and understanding metabolic cooperation can be used to build stronger, more predictive models of metabolism that take into account how metabolites are shared in microbial communities in nature:

Microbes in nature usually do not exist in isolation. The mixed microbial concourse is rich with opportunities for interaction. Metabolic interactions in particular can radically alter the biochemical phenotypes of the participating strains. Microbial communities differ from monocultures in terms of the toxins they degrade (Pelz et al, 1999), the natural products they produce (Pettit, 2009), and even their capacity to grow at all in certain environments (Schink, 2006). A complete understanding of microbial metabolism must extend from the properties of individual strains in pure culture to the combinatorial interactions supported by complex communities.

If you're into metabolism, cooperation, systems biology, or cool math go check it out! It's open access!

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This is awesome -- as usual. Is it normal for new findings to be coming out on the tiny bugosphere at the rate you're posting?

I do hope folks follow this; it's not so evident if the blogmistress doesn't led the mob to set wacky polls aflame or set out to do battle with the lords of ignorance.

By Plinthy the Middling (not verified) on 11 Sep 2010 #permalink

hey thank u fr link!!

excellent paper..great work!!and its open access as well..al the better!!!