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Reference: Andy Gardner, Stuart A. West and Ashleigh S. Griffin, Wayne Getz ed., (2007). Is bacterial persistence a social trait?. PLoS ONE, 2 (8), Article: e752.Citable link to this page:


Is bacterial persistence a social trait?

Abstract: The ability of bacteria to evolve resistance to antibiotics has been much reported in recent years. It is less well-known that within populations of bacteria there are cells which are resistant due to a non-inherited phenotypic switch to a slow-growing state. Although such 'persister' cells are receiving increasing attention, the evolutionary forces involved here have been relatively ignored. Persistence has a direct benefit to cells because it allows survival during catastrophes - a form of bet-hedging. However, persistence can also provide an indirect benefit to other individuals, because the reduced growth rate can reduce competition for limiting resources. This raises the possibility that persistence is a social trait, which can be influenced by kin selection. We develop a theoretical model to investigate the social consequences of persistence. We predict that selection for persistence is increased when: (a) cells are related (e.g. a single, clonal lineage); and (b) resources are scarce. Our model allows us to predict how the level of persistence should vary with time, across populations, in response to intervention strategies and the level of competition. More generally, our results clarify the links between persistence and other bet-hedging or social behaviours.

Publication status:PublishedPeer Review status:Peer reviewedVersion:Publisher's versionNotes:Citation: Gardner, A., West, S. A. & Griffin, A. S. (2007). 'Is bacterial persistence a social trait?', PLoS ONE, 2(8), e752. [Available at]. © 2007 Gardner et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited. N. B. Dr Griffin is now based at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. Professor West is now based at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.


Wayne GetzMore by this contributor


 Bibliographic Details

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Publisher Website:

Host: PLoS ONEsee more from them

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Issue Date: 2007-August

Copyright Date: 2007

pages:Article: e752Identifiers


Eissn: 1932 6203

Urn: uuid:af352790-aebc-4b8f-9144-3657ec2fc5c3 Item Description

Type: Article: post-print;

Language: en

Version: Publisher's versionKeywords: persister cells antibiotics persistence theoretical modelSubjects: Biology Evolution (zoology) Zoological sciences Tiny URL: ora:2798


Autor: Andy Gardner - institutionUniversity of Oxford oxfordCollegeSt John's College fundingRoyal Society - - - Stuart A. West - ins



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