Thomas G. Platt

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The composition of the soil microbial community can be altered dramatically due to association with individual plant species, and these effects on the microbial community can have important feedbacks on plant ecology. Negative plant-soil feedback plays primary roles in maintaining plant community diversity, whereas positive plant-soil feedback may cause(More)
The expression of many bacterial phenotypes is regulated according to the concentration of chemical cues that they or other bacteria produce, a process often termed quorum sensing (QS). Many aspects of the environment can affect cue concentration. Thus these molecules might be indirect proxies for any one or combination of environmental factors. Recent(More)
Kin and multilevel selection theories predict that genetic structure is required for the evolution of cooperation. However, local competition among relatives can limit cooperative benefits, antagonizing the evolution of cooperation. We show that several ecological factors determine the extent to which kin competition constrains cooperative benefits. In(More)
Kin recognition helps cooperation to evolve in many animals, but it is uncertain whether microorganisms can also use it to focus altruistic behaviour on relatives. Here we show that the social amoeba Dictyostelium purpureum prefers to form groups with its own kin in situations where some individuals die to assist others. By directing altruism towards kin,(More)
Harbouring a plasmid often imposes a fitness cost on the bacterial host. Motivated by implications for public health, the majority of studies on plasmid cost are focused on elements that impart antibiotic resistance. Plasmids, however, can provide a wide range of ecologically important phenotypes to their bacterial hosts-such as virulence, specialized(More)
Cooperative benefits depend on a variety of ecological factors. Many cooperative bacteria increase the population size of their groups by making a public good available. Increased local population size can alleviate the constraints of kin competition on the evolution of cooperation by enhancing the between-group fitness of cooperators. The cooperative(More)
Plasmids play an important role in shaping bacterial evolution and adaptation to heterogeneous environments. As modular genetic elements that are often conjugative, the selective pressures that act on plasmid-borne genes are distinct from those that act on the chromosome. Many bacteria are co-infected by multiple plasmids that impart niche-specific(More)
Mutations are the ultimate source of variation used for evolutionary adaptation, while also being predominantly deleterious and a source of genetic disorders. Understanding the rate of insertion-deletion mutations (indels) is essential to understanding evolutionary processes, especially in coding regions, where such mutations can disrupt production of(More)
Many bacteria explore their immediate environment using flagellar locomotion, and on semisolid surfaces, this type of flagellum-driven motility is known as swarming (22). Dozens of genera exhibit swarming motility, and it can play an important role in biofilm formation (9, 28), virulence functions (1, 2, 31), and the colonization of new environments.(More)
As with many pathogenic bacteria, agrobacterial plant pathogens carry most of their virulence functions on a horizontally transmissible genetic element. The tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid encodes the majority of virulence functions for the crown gall agent Agrobacterium tumefaciens. This includes the vir genes which drive genetic transformation of host cells(More)
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