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Bacteriophage can promote the emergence of physiologically sub-optimal host phenotypes

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Schenk,  Hanna
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Sieber,  Michael
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Schenk, H., & Sieber, M. (2019). Bacteriophage can promote the emergence of physiologically sub-optimal host phenotypes. bioRxiv. doi:10.1101/621524.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-5395-6
Abstract
Reproduction of bacteria-specific viruses, or bacteriophage, requires the replication and translation machinery of the host cell. As a consequence, phage fitness depends intimately on the physiological state, i.e. growth rate, of the host. We include this dependence of critical phage traits on host growth rate in a mathematical model of a bacteria-phage interaction. This leads to a feedback loop between phage success, host population size, nutrient availability and host growth rate. We find that this feedback allows slow growing bacteria to have a competitive advantage in the presence of phage. Under certain conditions a slow growing host mutant can even drive the phage to extinction. Since in a phage-free environment slow growth is deleterious, the mutant subsequentely dies out as well, constituting a kind of altruistic scenario similar to abortive infections.