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Title: Advances in the social evolution and ecology of bacterial public goods
Author: O'Brien, Siobhan Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 8302
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2015
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The altruistic production of public goods is one of most popular puzzles in evolutionary biology, and is most commonly explained by the indirect fitness benefit accrued by producers. I develop our understanding of the ecology and evolution of public good production by considering how inter- and intraspecific interactions can affect indirect fitness benefits, and ultimately, the evolutionary trajectory of public good cooperation in a bacterial public good system: 1) I demonstrate the ability of public good cooperators to adapt to the presence of cheats by reducing their own cooperative output, constraining cheat fitness as a consequence. 2) I examine the relative contributions of inter- (bacteriophage) and intraspecific (social cheats) parasites on shaping bacterial mutation rates, and demonstrate that social cheats can gain a fitness advantage in the presence compared with the absence of interspecific parasites. 3) I formally show for the first time, that siderophore-mediated detoxification can be an altruistic trait, rapidly selecting for the evolution of de novo cheats, and discuss the implications this process may have for community structure and function. 4) I extend (3) to assess the impact the natural microbial community has on the fitness consequences of siderophore-mediated detoxification in a natural soil environment. 5) I discuss the interplay between rapid microbial evolution and community context, and propose the impacts such interplay may have for biotechnological applications.
Supervisor: Buckling, Angus Sponsor: University of Exeter
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Evolution ; Ecology ; Microbiology