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Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 8;7:10508. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10508.

Rapid radiation in bacteria leads to a division of labour.

Kim W1,2,3, Levy SB4, Foster KR1,2,3.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.
2
Oxford Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.
3
FAS Center for Systems Biology, University of Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
4
Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance, Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.

Abstract

The division of labour is a central feature of the most sophisticated biological systems, including genomes, multicellular organisms and societies, which took millions of years to evolve. Here we show that a well-organized and robust division of labour can evolve in a matter of days. Mutants emerge within bacterial colonies and work with the parent strain to gain new territory. The two strains self-organize in space: one provides a wetting polymer at the colony edge, whereas the other sits behind and pushes them both along. The emergence of the interaction is repeatable, bidirectional and only requires a single mutation to alter production of the intracellular messenger, cyclic-di-GMP. Our work demonstrates the power of the division of labour to rapidly solve biological problems without the need for long-term evolution or derived sociality. We predict that the division of labour will evolve frequently in microbial populations, where rapid genetic diversification is common.

PMID:
26852925
PMCID:
PMC4748119
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms10508
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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