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Division of labor in the test tube
Date:12/2/2013

This news release is available in German.

The division of labor is more efficient than a struggle through life without help from others this is also true for microorganisms. Researchers from Research Group Experimental Ecology and Evolution at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and their colleagues at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany came to this conclusion when they performed experiments with microbes. The scientists worked with bacteria that were deficient in the production of a certain amino acid and therefore depended on a partner to provide the missing nutrient. Bacterial strains that complemented each other's need by providing the required amino acid showed a fitness increase of about 20% relative to a non-deficient strain without partner. This result helps to explain why cooperation is such a widespread model of success in nature. (The ISME Journal, 28 November 2013, DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2013.211)

Ecology and evolution: close relatives

Each life form on our planet has to adapt to its environment as good as it can. Apart from getting used to climate conditions and food supply, each species must get along with other organisms in the habitat. In the course of evolution species adapt continuously to each other and to the environment by changing their genetic features. This is why cold resistant species live at the poles and heat resistant species in the deserts. Also nutritional needs and metabolic regulation underlie the principle of evolution. So let's take a look at the world of microbes in this context!

Microbial communities

"No matter where you look: Microbial communities can be found in almost every habitat you can think of," says Christian Kost, leader of the research group "Experimenta
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Contact: Dr. Christian Kost
ckost@ice.mpg.de
49-364-157-1212
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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