skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Evolution of mutualism between species


Recent theoretical work on mutualism, the interaction between species populations that is mutually beneficial, is reviewed. Several ecological facts that should be addressed in the construction of dynamic models for mutualism are examined. Basic terminology is clarified. (PSB)

; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab., TN (USA)
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Resource Relation:
Conference: Workshop on differential equations in populations: epidemics and ecology, Clairmont, CA, USA, 10 Jan 1980
Country of Publication:
United States

Citation Formats

Post, W.M., Travis, C.C., and DeAngelis, D.L. Evolution of mutualism between species. United States: N. p., 1980. Web.
Post, W.M., Travis, C.C., & DeAngelis, D.L. Evolution of mutualism between species. United States.
Post, W.M., Travis, C.C., and DeAngelis, D.L. 1980. "Evolution of mutualism between species". United States. doi:.
title = {Evolution of mutualism between species},
author = {Post, W.M. and Travis, C.C. and DeAngelis, D.L.},
abstractNote = {Recent theoretical work on mutualism, the interaction between species populations that is mutually beneficial, is reviewed. Several ecological facts that should be addressed in the construction of dynamic models for mutualism are examined. Basic terminology is clarified. (PSB)},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 1980,
month = 1

Other availability
Please see Document Availability for additional information on obtaining the full-text document. Library patrons may search WorldCat to identify libraries that hold this conference proceeding.

Save / Share:
  • The demonstration of a mutualistic interaction requires evidence of benefits for both partners as well as stability of the association over multiple generations. A synthetic mutualism between the freshwater microalga Chlorella sorokiniana and the soil-derived plant growth-promoting bacterium (PGPB) Azospirillum brasilense was created when both microorganisms were co-immobilized in alginate beads. Using stable isotope enrichment experiments followed by high-resolution secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) imaging of single cells, we demonstrated transfer of carbon and nitrogen compounds between the two partners. Further, using fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), mechanical disruption and scanning electron microscopy, we demonstrated the stability of their physicalmore » association for a period of 10 days after the aggregated cells were released from the beads. The bacteria significantly enhanced the growth of the microalgae while the microalgae supported growth of the bacteria in a medium where it could not otherwise grow. In conclusion, we propose that this microalga-bacterium association is a true synthetic mutualism independent of co-evolution. (155 words).« less
  • Previous studies have shown that insects typically consume more when fed leaf tissue grown under CO2 enrichment, but with few negative effects on growth. On the other hand, Lepidopteran larvae fed tissue infected with Balansiae fungal endophytes (which produce toxic alkaloids) typically eat less but suffer negative effects on growth and survival. This study was carried out to see how these two factors would interact to affect consumption and growth of Fall Armyworm larvae (Spodoptera frugiperda). Infected and uninfected ramets of a single genotype of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) were grown under CO2 concentrations of 400 and 700 ul/L. Larvaemore » had increased relative growth in the high CO2 treatment, but decreased growth when fed infected tissue. Relative consumption of leaf tissue was greater in the high CO2 treatment, but was not effected by infection. CO2 level, infection, and their interaction all significantly reduced the efficiency of conversion of food ingested (ECI). It appears that tall fescue may not be as well defended against herbivores under CO2 enrichment, although insects may still avoid and be negatively effected by endophyte infected plants.« less
  • Mutualistic interactions are taxonomically and functionally diverse. Despite their ubiquity, the basic ecological and evolutionary processes underlying their origin and maintenance are poorly understood. A major reason for this has been the lack of an experimentally tractable model system. We examine the evolution of an experimentally imposed obligate mutualism between sulfate-reducing and methanogenic microorganisms that have no known history of prior interaction. Twenty-four independent pairings (cocultures) of the bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris and the archaeon Methanococcus maripaludis were established and followed for 300 community doublings in two environments, one allowing for the development of a heterogeneous distribution of resources and themore » other not. Evolved cocultures grew up to 80percent faster and were up to 30percent more productive (biomass yield per mole substrate) than the ancestors. The evolutionary process was marked by periods of significant instability leading to extinction of two of the cocultures, but resulted in more stable, efficient, and productive mutualisms for most replicated pairings. Comparisons of evolved cocultures with those assembled from one evolved and one ancestral mutualist showed that evolution of both species contributed to improved productivity. Surprisingly, however, overall improvements in growth rate and yield were less than the sum of individual contributions, suggesting antagonistic interactions between mutations from the coevolved populations. Physical constraints on the transfer of metabolites in the evolution environment affected the evolution of M. maripaludis but not D. vulgaris. Together, these results show that challenges can imperil nascent obligate mutualisms and demonstrate the evolutionary responses that enable their persistence and future evolution.« less
  • Nitrification is a two-step environmental microbial process in the nitrogen cycle in which ammonia is oxidized to nitrate. Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea oxidize ammonia to nitrite and nitrite is oxidized to nitrate by nitrite-oxidizing bacteria. These microorganisms, which likely act in concert in a microbial community, play critical roles in the movement of inorganic N in soils, sediments and waters and are essential to the balance of the nitrogen cycle. Anthropogenic activity has altered the balance of the nitrogen cycle through agriculture practices and organic waste byproducts. Through their influence on available N for plant growth, nitrifying microorganisms influence plantmore » productivity for food and fiber production and the associated carbon sequestration. N Fertilizer production, primarily as ammonia, requires large inputs of natural gas and hydrogen. In croplands fertilized with ammonia-based fertilizers, nitrifiers contribute to the mobilization of this N by producing nitrate (NO3-), wasting the energy used in the production and application of ammonia-based fertilizer. The resulting nitrate is readily leached from these soils, oxidized to gaseous N oxides (greenhouse gases), and denitrified to N2 (which is no longer available as a plant N source). Still, ammonia oxidizers are beneficial in the treatment of wastewater and they also show potential to contribute to microbial bioremediation strategies for clean up of environments contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. Mitigation of the negative effects and exploitation of the beneficial effects of nitrifiers will be facilitated by a systems-level understanding of the interactions of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria with the environment and with each other.« less