Evolution of cooperative cross-feeding could be less challenging than originally thought.
Public Library of Science
The act of cross-feeding whereby unrelated species exchange nutrients is a common feature of microbial interactions and could be considered a form of reciprocal altruism or reciprocal cooperation. Past theoretical work suggests that the evolution of cooperative cross-feeding in nature may be more challenging than for other types of cooperation. Here we re-evaluate a mathematical model used previously to study persistence of cross-feeding and conclude that the maintenance of cross-feeding interactions could be favoured for a larger parameter ranges than formerly observed. Strikingly, we also find that large populations of cross-feeders are not necessarily vulnerable to extinction from an initially small number of cheats who receive the benefit of cross-feeding but do not reciprocate in this cooperative interaction. This could explain the widespread cooperative cross-feeding observed in natural populations.
addresses: Department of Mathematics, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.
notes: PMCID: PMC2994712
types: Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Copyright: © 2010 Estrela, Gudelj. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
PLoS One, 2010, Vol. 5, Issue 11, pp. e14121
Place of publication