Allelopathic interactions mediated by bacteriocins production serve microorganisms in the never-ending battle for resources and living space. Competition between the bacteriocin producer and sensitive populations results in the exclusion of one or the other depending on their initial frequencies, the structure of their habitat, their community density and their nutrient availability. These interactions were extensively studied in bacteriocins produced by Escherichia coli, the colicins. In spatially structured environments where interactions are local, colicin production has been shown to be advantageous to the producer population, allowing them to compete even when initially rare. Yet, in a well-mixed, unstructured environment where interactions are global, rare producer populations cannot invade a common sensitive population. Here we are showing, through an experimental model, that colicin-producers can outcompete sensitive and producer populations when the colicin production rates are enhanced. In fact, colicin production rates were proportional to the producer competitive fitness and their overall success in out-competing opponents when invading at very low initial frequencies. This ability of rare populations to invade established communities maintains diversity and allows the dispersal of beneficial traits.
- Escherichia coli
- Rate dependent