In cooperative bacterial communities, cheaters may arise. These bacteria do not pay the cost of producing public goods but still consume the shareable resources produced by other cooperative bacteria.
Strategies used by cooperators to curb the cheater population in a bacterial community
Spatial structuring and kin selection
As cooperators build biofilms, they keep their kin close and limit cheaters’ access to communal resources.
Cooperators discriminate kin from non-kin and share resources only with highly related cells.
Cooperating bacteria can sanction cheaters by producing diffusible toxins together with a resource.
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