Weapon-wielding marine microbes may protect populations from foes
Competition is a strong driving force of evolution for organisms of all sizes; those individuals best equipped to obtain resources adapt and reproduce, while others may fall by the wayside. Many organisms also form cooperative social structures that allow resources to be defended and shared within a population. Surprisingly, even microbes have a somewhat sophisticated social structure that relies on cooperation, according to Professor Martin Polz and postdoctoral associate Otto Cordero. These researchers recently found evidence that some ocean microbes wield chemical weapons — antibiotics — that are harmless to close relatives within their own population, but deadly to outsiders. Three CEE undergrads are co-authors on the paper. Read news release.