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"Bacteria in a population can function as a multicellular organism of sorts - where mutants that acquire a mutation affording resistance to the antibiotic will share a signaling molecule, indole - helping out the more susceptible members of the population,"...
"In general, we've always believed that the guy that gets the [antibiotic resistance] mutation survives and everyone else dies," Collins said. "What we show is that the guy that gets the mutation pops up and helps everybody else."
By pumping out indole into the medium, the resistant bacteria are essentially doling out life rafts to the vulnerable population -- allowing them to float on when they would otherwise most likely die.
...In the paper, Collins and his colleagues likened this mechanism to "kin selection," where individuals of a species work to benefit the group, and not necessarily themselves.
..."So this small number of cells starts a chain reaction,"
Originally posted by bigfatfurrytexan
This is interesting. Very interesting.
It seems that altruism may be one of those "fractal behaviors" that I have mentioned before. This is a behavioral set that is emulated on multiple levels up the biological chain.
We see altruism among dolphins, dogs, that gorilla that coddled the injured child at the zoo. We see noble actions frequently among the animals of the world.
So you have to then ask yourself, how does the human condition breed such rampant sociopathy? Sociopathic behaviors are well outside the norm, if this research is to be understood correctly.
Originally posted by soficrow
I should have mentioned...
This observation - that "fit" individuals use themselves to ensure their community's survival - contradicts Galton's theory of "Survival of the Fittest."
And implies the opposite:
Species survival depends on the altruistic sacrifice of fit individuals.
Interesting, dontcha think?