Ecology Letters (2011)
Bacteria produce a great diversity of siderophores to scavenge for iron in their environment. We suggest that this diversity results from the interplay between siderophore producers (cooperators) and non-producers (cheaters): when there are many cheaters exploiting a siderophore type it is beneficial for a mutant to produce a siderophore unusable by the dominant population. We formulated and analysed a mathematical model for tagged public goods to investigate the potential for the emergence of diversity. We found that, although they are rare most of the time, cheaters play a key role in maintaining diversity by regulating the different populations of cooperators. This threshold-triggered feedback prevents any stain of cooperators from dominating the others. Our study provides a novel general mechanism for the evolution of diversity that may apply to many forms of social behaviour.
If you can't find a tool you're looking for, please click the link at the top of the page to "Go to old article view". Alternatively, view our Knowledge Base articles for additional help. Your feedback is important to us, so please let us know if you have comments or ideas for improvement.