Prevalence of mutualism in a simple model of microbial coevolution



Evolutionary transitions among ecological interactions are widely known, although their detailed dynamics remain absent for most population models. Adaptive dynamics has been used to illustrate how the parameters of population models might shift through evolution, but within an ecological regime. Here we use adaptive dynamics combined with a generalized logistic model of population dynamics to show that transitions of ecological interactions might appear as a consequence of evolution. To this purpose, we introduce a two-microbial toy model in which population parameters are determined by a bookkeeping of resources taken from (and excreted to) the environment, as well as from the byproducts of the other species. Despite its simplicity, this model exhibits all kinds of potential ecological transitions, some of which resemble those found in nature. Overall, the model shows a clear trend toward the emergence of mutualism.

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