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Social evolution in micro-organisms and a Trojan horse approach to medical intervention strategies.

Authors
  • Brown, Sam P1
  • West, Stuart A
  • Diggle, Stephen P
  • Griffin, Ashleigh S
  • 1 Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences
Publisher
The Royal Society
Publication Date
Nov 12, 2009
Volume
364
Issue
1533
Pages
3157–3168
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0055
PMID: 19805424
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Medical science is typically pitted against the evolutionary forces acting upon infective populations of bacteria. As an alternative strategy, we could exploit our growing understanding of population dynamics of social traits in bacteria to help treat bacterial disease. In particular, population dynamics of social traits could be exploited to introduce less virulent strains of bacteria, or medically beneficial alleles into infective populations. We discuss how bacterial strains adopting different social strategies can invade a population of cooperative wild-type, considering public good cheats, cheats carrying medically beneficial alleles (Trojan horses) and cheats carrying allelopathic traits (anti-competitor chemical bacteriocins or temperate bacteriophage viruses). We suggest that exploitation of the ability of cheats to invade cooperative, wild-type populations is a potential new strategy for treating bacterial disease.

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