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L'évolution de la coopération: des testes expérimentaux des explications adaptatives et le développement de la théorie de l'évolution

English title The evolution of cooperative behaviour: experimental tests of adaptive explanations and development of evolutionary theory
Applicant Kümmerli Rolf
Number 114209
Funding scheme Fellowships for prospective researchers
Research institution Ashworth Laboratories Institute of Evolutionary Biology The University of Edinburgh
Institution of higher education Institution abroad - IACH
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.11.2006 - 31.10.2007
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Keywords (6)

social evolution; altruistic cooperation; cooperative trait; kin selection; co-operator versus cheater; human pathogen

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The occurrence of altruistic cooperation is one of the greatest challenges for evolutionary biology. The problem is how can an altruistic behaviour, that is costly to perform but benefits other individuals, be maintained by selection? To date, most of the research on cooperation has been focussed on social insects and vertebrates. However, a great variety of cooperative traits have been recently discovered in microbes, which offers exciting experimental possibilities that are usually not possible with metazoans.
This proposal aims to investigate siderophore production, a cooperative trait and virulence factor of an opportunistic pathogen of humans, the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Siderophores are agents produced by bacteria in response to iron deficiency that are released into the environment to scavenge insoluble and host-bound iron. Siderophore production is a cooperative trait, because it is costly for the individual to produce, but provides a group benefit, as other individuals can also take up the scavenged iron. Crucially, this cooperative trait is exploitable by cheaters who do not produce siderophores but are still able to up-take the iron made available. The objectives of the proposed work are to investigate conditions that favour the evolution and maintenance of siderophore production by testing predictions of evolutionary theory. The objectives will be addressed by carrying out series of experiments that investigate the costs and benefits of siderophore production under different environmental conditions and compare the relative success of cooperaters and cheats when alone or in mixed cultures. The empirical work will be complemented with theoretical models that aim to develop evolutionary theory in this field. Importantly, this work will study a cooperative trait that affects virulence in a human pathogen and, therefore, presents a novel opportunity for applying our understanding of social evolution to medical problems.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126337 Evolutionary explanations for the persistence of cooperative siderophore production in the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa 01.11.2009 Ambizione