Microbial consortia at steady supply.

TitleMicrobial consortia at steady supply.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsTaillefumier, T, Posfai, A, Meir, Y, Wingreen, NS
JournalElife
Volume6
Date Published2017 May 05
ISSN2050-084X
Abstract

Metagenomics has revealed hundreds of species in almost all microbiota. In a few well-studied cases, microbial communities have been observed to coordinate their metabolic fluxes. In principle, microbes can divide tasks to reap the benefits of specialization, as in human economies. However, the benefits and stability of an economy of microbial specialists are far from obvious. Here, we physically model the population dynamics of microbes that compete for steadily supplied resources. Importantly, we explicitly model the metabolic fluxes yielding cellular biomass production under the constraint of a limited enzyme budget. We find that population dynamics generally leads to the coexistence of different metabolic types. We establish that these microbial consortia act as cartels, whereby population dynamics pins down resource concentrations at values for which no other strategy can invade. Finally, we propose that at steady supply, cartels of competing strategies automatically yield maximum biomass, thereby achieving a collective optimum.

DOI10.7554/eLife.22644
Alternate JournalElife
PubMed ID28473032
PubMed Central IDPMC5419753
Grant ListR01 GM082938 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States