Individual-based modelling of cooperation and competition in biofilms: How fast should a bacterium grow?

  • Jan-Ulrich Kreft (Botanisches Institut der Universität Bonn, Germany)
G3 10 (Lecture hall)


Using an individual-based model, I will show how the clustered growth of bacteria in biofilms enables the evolution of a 'primitive' altruistic strategy that reduces growth rate in favour of yield, thereby increasing the fitness of the cluster at the cost of decreased fitness for the individual.

This perspective on life in biofilms can for the first time explain biofilm structure and characteristics as promoting the origin and maintenance of the altruistic strategy.

Chemostat models and experiments mislead microbiologists into believing that growth rate but not yield decide the outcome of competition.