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Journal Article

Aggregative cycles evolve as a solution to conflicts in social investment


De Monte,  Silvia
Research Group Dynamics of Microbial Collectives, Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Miele, L., & De Monte, S. (2021). Aggregative cycles evolve as a solution to conflicts in social investment. PLoS Computational Biology, 17(1): e1008617. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1008617.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A9A7-E
Multicellular organization is particularly vulnerable to conflicts between different celltypes when the body forms from initially isolated cells, as in aggregative multicellularmicrobes. Like other functions of the multicellular phase, coordinated collectivemovement can be undermined by conflicts between cells that spend energy in fuellingmotion and ’cheaters’ that get carried along. The evolutionary stability of collectivebehaviours against such conflicts is typically addressed in populations that undergoextrinsically imposed phases of aggregation and dispersal. Here, via a shift inperspective, we propose that aggregative multicellular cycles may have emerged as away to temporally compartmentalize social conflicts. Through an eco-evolutionarymathematical model that accounts for individual and collective strategies of resourceacquisition, we address regimes where different motility types coexist. Particularlyinteresting is the oscillatory regime that, similarly to life cycles of aggregativemulticellular organisms, alternates on the timescale of several cell generations phases ofprevalent solitary living and starvation-triggered aggregation. Crucially, such self-organized oscillations emerge as a result of evolution of cell traits associated toconflict escalation within multicellular aggregates.