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Abstract: Phase variation, or stochastic switching between alternative states of geneexpression, is common among microbes, and may be important in coping withchanging environments. We use a theoretical model to assess whether suchswitching is a good strategy for growth in environments with occasionalcatastrophic events. We find that switching can be advantageous, but only whenthe environment is responsive to the microbial population. In our model,microbes switch randomly between two phenotypic states, with different growthrates. The environment undergoes sudden -catastrophes-, the probability ofwhich depends on the composition of the population. We derive a simpleanalytical result for the population growth rate. For a responsive environment,two alternative strategies emerge. In the -no switching- strategy, thepopulation maximises its instantaneous growth rate, regardless of catastrophes.In the -switching- strategy, the microbial switching rate is tuned to minimisethe environmental response. Which of these strategies is most favourabledepends on the parameters of the model. Previous studies have shown thatmicrobial switching can be favourable when the environment changes in anunresponsive fashion between several states. Here, we demonstrate analternative role for phase variation in allowing microbes to maximise theirgrowth in catastrophic responsive environments.



Autor: Paolo Visco, Rosalind J. Allen, Satya N. Majumdar, Martin R. Evans

Fuente: https://arxiv.org/







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