Issue 12, 2014

Evolutionary game theory: cells as players


In two papers we review game theory applications in biology below the level of cognitive living beings. It can be seen that evolution and natural selection replace the rationality of the actors appropriately. Even in these micro worlds, competing situations and cooperative relationships can be found and modeled by evolutionary game theory. Also those units of the lowest levels of life show different strategies for different environmental situations or different partners. We give a wide overview of evolutionary game theory applications to microscopic units. In this first review situations on the cellular level are tackled. In particular metabolic problems are discussed, such as ATP-producing pathways, secretion of public goods and cross-feeding. Further topics are cyclic competition among more than two partners, intra- and inter-cellular signalling, the struggle between pathogens and the immune system, and the interactions of cancer cells. Moreover, we introduce the theoretical basics to encourage scientists to investigate problems in cell biology and molecular biology by evolutionary game theory.

Graphical abstract: Evolutionary game theory: cells as players

Article information

Article type
Review Article
20 Dec 2013
07 Aug 2014
First published
07 Aug 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Mol. BioSyst., 2014,10, 3044-3065

Author version available

Evolutionary game theory: cells as players

S. Hummert, K. Bohl, D. Basanta, A. Deutsch, S. Werner, G. Theißen, A. Schroeter and S. Schuster, Mol. BioSyst., 2014, 10, 3044 DOI: 10.1039/C3MB70602H

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