Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Curr Biol. 2014 Jan 6;24(1):50-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.030. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Solutions to the public goods dilemma in bacterial biofilms.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA; Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
2
Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA.
3
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
4
Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
5
Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD 20815, USA. Electronic address: bbassler@princeton.edu.

Abstract

Bacteria frequently live in densely populated surface-bound communities, termed biofilms [1-4]. Biofilm-dwelling cells rely on secretion of extracellular substances to construct their communities and to capture nutrients from the environment [5]. Some secreted factors behave as cooperative public goods: they can be exploited by nonproducing cells [6-11]. The means by which public-good-producing bacteria avert exploitation in biofilm environments are largely unknown. Using experiments with Vibrio cholerae, which secretes extracellular enzymes to digest its primary food source, the solid polymer chitin, we show that the public goods dilemma may be solved by two very different mechanisms: cells can produce thick biofilms that confine the goods to producers, or fluid flow can remove soluble products of chitin digestion, denying access to nonproducers. Both processes are unified by limiting the distance over which enzyme-secreting cells provide benefits to neighbors, resulting in preferential benefit to nearby clonemates and allowing kin selection to favor public good production. Our results demonstrate new mechanisms by which the physical conditions of natural habitats can interact with bacterial physiology to promote the evolution of cooperation.

Comment in

PMID:
24332540
PMCID:
PMC3935403
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.030
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center