Many species exhibit cooperative survival strategies — for example, sharing food or alerting other individuals when a predator is nearby. However, there are almost always freeloaders in the population who will take advantage of cooperators. This can be seen even among microbes such as yeast, where “cheaters” consume food produced by their neighbors without contributing any of their own. In light of this, evolutionary biologists have long wondered why cooperation remains a viable survival strategy, since there will always be others who cheat. Now, MIT physicists have found a possible answer to this question: Among yeast, cooperative members of the population actually have a better chance of survival than cheaters when a competing species is introduced into an environment. Hasan Celiker, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, is the paper’s lead author. Continue reading the article on MITnews.
Celiker discovers survival edge in cooperating yeast cells
November 14, 2012