PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Ecological Bottlenecks: Microbial Multicellularity as a Response to Environmental Stress

Microbial communities are infamous for their resilience to environmental stress, such as antimicrobial treatments and host immune responses, which suggests that microbes have evolved particular strategies to cope with stress. This paper investigates how microbes respond to "ecological bottlenecks," i.e., mass-mortality events caused by environmental stress. Ecological bottlenecks can suppress conflict within microbial communities via two mechanisms: (1) by increasing genetic relatedness and (2) by enhancing partner fidelity feedback. These two explanations are independent from each other because partner fidelity feedback can occur when genetic relatedness is low (e.g., lichens). More generally, this paper emphasizes the value of ecology in understanding the evolution of cooperation and conflict.

Author Information:

Makmiller Pedroso    
Towson University


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