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Evolutionary dynamics of microbes

Evolution of cooperative traits in structured populations

The ability to replicate fast is an essential aspect of most bacterial species. We previously investigated the consequences of this growth dynamics for the evolution of cooperative traits in structured microbial populations. In evolutionary theory, many studies have investigated the different conditions which allow to overcome the tragedy of the commons such that cooperative behavior (the costly provision of benefits to others) becomes an evolutionary stable trait: Almost since the original formulation of the theory of evolution, there is an ongoing debate on the role of group- and kin-selection to stabilize cooperation. To understand how cooperative traits are stably maintained in microbial populations, we specifically considered the selective consequences of the bacterial life-cycle were phases of growth and arrest interchange.

We recently wrote an extended review about the topic.

Jonas Cremer, Anna Melbinger, Karl Wienand, Tania Henriquez, Heinrich Jung, Erwin Frey : Cooperation in Microbial Populations: Theory and Experimental Model SystemsIn: Journal of Molecular Biology, in press, 2019.

Major original publications are listed below.

Anna Melbinger, Jonas Cremer, Erwin Frey: The emergence of cooperation from a single mutant during microbial life cyclesIn: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12 (108), 2015.


Jonas Cremer, Anna Melbinger, Erwin Frey: Growth dynamics and the evolution of cooperation in microbial populationsIn: Scientific Reports, 2012.


Anna Melbinger, Jonas Cremer, Erwin Frey: Evolutionary Game Theory in Growing PopulationsIn: Physical Review Letters, 105 (17), 2010.