Ecology and evolution of metabolic cross-feeding interactions in bacteria†
Literature covered: early 2000s to late 2017
Bacteria frequently exchange metabolites with other micro- and macro-organisms. In these often obligate cross-feeding interactions, primary metabolites such as vitamins, amino acids, nucleotides, or growth factors are exchanged. The widespread distribution of this type of metabolic interactions, however, is at odds with evolutionary theory: why should an organism invest costly resources to benefit other individuals rather than using these metabolites to maximize its own fitness? Recent empirical work has shown that bacterial genotypes can significantly benefit from trading metabolites with other bacteria relative to cells not engaging in such interactions. Here, we will provide a comprehensive overview over the ecological factors and evolutionary mechanisms that have been identified to explain the evolution and maintenance of metabolic mutualisms among microorganisms. Furthermore, we will highlight general principles that underlie the adaptive evolution of interconnected microbial metabolic networks as well as the evolutionary consequences that result for cells living in such communities.
- This article is part of the themed collection: The Chemistry of Symbiotic Interactions