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Aggregative cycles evolve as a solution to conflicts in social investment.


ABSTRACT: Multicellular organization is particularly vulnerable to conflicts between different cell types when the body forms from initially isolated cells, as in aggregative multicellular microbes. Like other functions of the multicellular phase, coordinated collective movement can be undermined by conflicts between cells that spend energy in fuelling motion and 'cheaters' that get carried along. The evolutionary stability of collective behaviours against such conflicts is typically addressed in populations that undergo extrinsically imposed phases of aggregation and dispersal. Here, via a shift in perspective, we propose that aggregative multicellular cycles may have emerged as a way to temporally compartmentalize social conflicts. Through an eco-evolutionary mathematical model that accounts for individual and collective strategies of resource acquisition, we address regimes where different motility types coexist. Particularly interesting is the oscillatory regime that, similarly to life cycles of aggregative multicellular organisms, alternates on the timescale of several cell generations phases of prevalent solitary living and starvation-triggered aggregation. Crucially, such self-organized oscillations emerge as a result of evolution of cell traits associated to conflict escalation within multicellular aggregates.

SUBMITTER: Miele L 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7850506 | BioStudies | 2021-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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