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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Emergence of Metabolite Provisioning as a By-Product of Evolved Biological Functions.

  • Author(s): Gude, Sebastian
  • Pherribo, Gordon J
  • Taga, Michiko E
  • et al.

Microbes commonly use metabolites produced by other organisms to compete effectively with others in their environment. As a result, microbial communities are composed of networks of metabolically interdependent organisms. How these networks evolve and shape population diversity, stability, and community function is a subject of active research. But how did these metabolic interactions develop initially? In particular, how and why are metabolites such as amino acids, cofactors, and nucleobases released for the benefit of others when there apparently is no incentive to do so? Here, we discuss the hypothesis that metabolite provisioning is not itself adaptive but rather can be a natural consequence of other evolved biological functions. We outline two examples of metabolite provisioning as a by-product of other functions by considering cell lysis and regulated metabolite efflux outside their canonical roles and explore their potential to facilitate the emergence of interdependent metabolite sharing.

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