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Horizontal gene transfer: Bacteria apparently despise the selfish gene


What else are we to suppose about these research findings?:

Cooperation is ubiquitous in bacterial populations. Bacteria produce and share public goods, providing indiscriminate benefits to their neighbors at cost to themselves.

Bacteria often engage in horizontal gene transfer (HGT) to rapidly disseminate traits in a population. HGT provides an important mechanism for cooperation to spread, effectively acting as an enforcement mechanism.

Public goods can also promote HGT, potentially resulting in positive feedback loops between the two.

HGT could itself be considered a public good due to the costly benefits it provides a population. Cooperation exists across all scales of biological organization, from genetic elements to complex human societies. Bacteria cooperate by secreting molecules that benefit all individuals in the population (i.e., public goods). Genes associated with cooperation can spread among strains through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). We discuss recent findings on how HGT mediated by mobile genetic elements promotes bacterial cooperation, how cooperation in turn can facilitate more frequent HGT, and how the act of HGT itself may be considered as a form of cooperation. We propose that HGT is an important enforcement mechanism in bacterial populations, thus creating a positive feedback loop that further maintains cooperation. To enforce cooperation, HGT serves as a homogenizing force by transferring the cooperative trait, effectively eliminating cheaters.

Isaiah Paolo A. Lee, Omar Tonsi Eldakar, J. Peter Gogarten, Cheryl P. Andam , “Evolution of cooperation” at Trends in Ecology & Evolution

It makes sense but it isn’t yer old biology teacher’s evolution.

The paper is open access.

By the way, is this a good time to bring up:

University of Chicago biochemist: All living cells are cognitive? James Shapiro’s recent paper points out, with examples, that bacteria meet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “cognitive” Future debates over origins of intelligence, consciousness, etc., may mainly feature panpsychists vs. theists rather than materialists vs. theists.

You may also wish to read: Horizontal gene transfer: Sorry, Darwin, it’s not your evolution any more

Darwinian theory is a big mess.... we hear all the time about the survival of the fittest... but we also hear, all the time, that basically all species cooperate, now, including the simplest ones - bacteria .... Like i said ... such a mess ! martin_r
This is the kind of thinking that ecologists were supposed to be doing. Mixing economics and biology to form better observations of both. It's good to see them carrying out their original mission instead of screeching KILL GRANNY! Eugenics is not a 'positive feedback loop of cooperation'. polistra

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