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“Survival of the weakest” aids bacteria?


Or so we learn: in “Bacteria develop restraint for survival in a rock-paper-scissors community” (ScienceDaily, 20-Jun-2011):

It is a common perception that bigger, stronger, faster organisms have a distinct advantage for long-term survival when competing with other organisms in a given community.But new research from the University of Washington shows that in some structured communities, organisms increase their chances of survival if they evolve some level of restraint that allows competitors to survive as well, a sort of “survival of the weakest.”

The phenomenon was observed in a community of three “nontransitive” competitors, meaning their relationship to each other is circular as in the children’s game rock-paper-scissors in which scissors always defeats paper, paper always defeats rock and rock always defeats scissors.

Of course, it makes sense but if evolution proceeds by mind-free “survival of the fittest”, its tripartite origin is hard to conceptualize.


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